FIVE REMINDERS CONCERNING STRESS AND DECISION-MAKING
Most of the time most of us are able to handle our own stresses quite sensibly, but sometimes we need some reminders.
Step One: Consider The Challenges In Front Of You.
Healthier relationships begin with your consideration of the current life challenges set before you. “ Keep in mind the adage: If God brings you to do it, He will bring you through it. We may be in a set of conditions not of our own making, but we can think our way to change the way we look at our circumstances. Sometimes we can take action to change the circumstances.
Victor Frankl survived a prison camp during the Holocaust when he allowed the influence of a ray of sunshine to instruct him. He made the decision that while he had little control of his personal situation, the German guards who decided his current life affairs could not control his mind. The joy of that sunbeam stretched him to look for those situations where he had control.
Also note that we are only now considering that which is in front of us and can be discerned. There will be others as we accumulate decisions and consequences.
Step Two: Analyze Courses Of Action And Evaluate Their Possible Effects On The Parties Involved.
What are your choices? Are there other possibilities? Gather as much information as is practical. Consider carefully the source of information when trying to make decisions that are life impacting for you and/or others.
The more you push yourself when you’re stressed, the less you’re likely to achieve. Trying harder increases the pressure and the inefficiency. Keep in mind the things you tell yourself. Change the words ”I have to ”to the words “I choose to.”
Taking the time to take stock of the demands you think and feel are on your life helps you to put things in perspective and plan your next moves. Others have said and perhaps counted that God states, “Fear not,” 365 times in the Bible. I don’t know the number of times His promise to be with me has sustained me, but this admonition speaks volumes to an anxious heart choosing to decide.
Make sure that the solutions you use will be helpful in the long run as well as in the short run.
This involves your overall goals for your life and for the lives of those whom you directly influence. Do you know what you’re working toward? Do you already have a ten-year or a five-year plan? Where do you want to be in the next 5 to 10 years?
Do your choices reflect your values?
If I’m a Christian, I can do something for expediency’s sake that is not in the best interest of my children. I can clean really well and really fast if the kids will just go into the family room and stay out of my way. However, I want them to grow up to be productive and helpful, able to contribute to the family’s well being. If I want them to learn to be independent, I need to give up doing things for them so that they can learn to do things for themselves. My clear choice is to allow them to learn how to clean by working along with me and showing them the methods I use to be fast and productive.
Consider also whether you’re letting society dictate your actions. For instance, in the small town where I live there is a societal expectation for some parents that all little girls take dancing lessons and all little boys play sports. That seems to be the unspoken norm; yet when the parent considers this norm, he or she realizes this expectation does not fit his children’s wants or needs or household budget. If it is a choice worth pursuing, consider what each of you can do to make the choice possible. If your son shows great skill as a football player in his elementary days, does the family need to sacrifice family vacations in the middle school years so he can participate in specialized sports camps? What sacrifices are needed for us to fit the unspoken demands of a materialistic society?
Step Three: Decide On Your Course Of Action And Put The Play In Motion. An Unmade Decision Is A Decision. Failure To Decide Weakens Future Choices And Your Ability To Act. Plus, I Have Failed To Lead.
Sometimes, as a Christian, I do get the message to wait to act. Seek and expect God to answer when we ask. However, we may not discern God’s telling us to move either way. We trust that He has equipped us to analyze the set of circumstances, consider the pros and the cons, evaluate the possible results of our choice, and take a step into the unknown, setting into play whatever the outcome may be.
Will we mess up? Will there be disastrous consequences? Quite possibly! But we are taking faith steps. God will stop us if we head into a wrong direction. But we need to seek His face and ask for his direction. We must expect an answer. If He reveals something that causes you to second-guess your almost-decided-upon course of action, that is often the reminder to go in a different direction.
Too frequently, I have not counted the cost, considered whether the outcome justifies the sacrifice of time and effort, have not asked God to direct me. Without God’s direction, we might as well as get a two-headed coin and do what we want to do.
Step Four: Affirm Yourself as a Leader.
Not everyone is stressed in making decisions. Many have been allowed to share opinions and make decisions as they were parented and have learned to be at ease in trusting their decision-making abilities. As a leader in your family, take note of how you can provide opportunity for your children to learn to make responsible choices and decisions, to evaluate the outcome of the results they have made. Take note of your process in making this decision, and apply similar steps to make future decisions.
STEP FIVE: Make Other Decisions Impacting This Choice And Any Others Set Into Motion With Your Action. Trust The Results To God. His Hand Is At Work, Redeeming Your Actions.
Do you stop to think of Biblical characters as real, living human beings who made life decisions and then faced the outcome of those choices? One of the best real-life examples is the Genesis story of Joseph. His brothers chose to look at a set of circumstances with ungodly eyes. They did not trust God’s commandments enough to obey them.
Acting from jealousy, they decided to kill Joseph who seemed to be their father’s favorite son. They worked out the story they would use, but changed their minds and sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph could have chosen from several negative attitudes, but worked hard as a slave, remained true to his master, and rose to a level of prominence in the government of Egypt as a leader and decision-maker.
Outcome was that years later his brothers were compelled by circumstances to trek to Egypt to face Joseph in the buying of grain during a time of famine. He identified himself to them, and they expected retribution. Joseph had other plans: he blessed them and pointed out that what man had meant for evil, God had intended for good. God had given him the big picture.
We do not have the ability to see beyond this present moment, but God does. Choose Him as your leader and director; trust Him that in decisions He will redeem what seem to be your worst mistakes.