When I created The Desert Walker, I intended to write about the challenges and struggles Christian men and women face in real life, day in and day out. Just prior to launching this blog, I wrote down more than thirty topics I wanted to cover. However, after looking back over previous posts, I realized only a few of those original ideas had been explored. So in the months ahead, this blog will take a different tone as we dive deeper into the daily life of the struggling Christian. Rather than trying to explain what that means, I’ll let you find out for yourself.
My wife and I got into a conversation the other day about how much my life has changed in the last several years. I have undergone a major (and much-needed) overhaul. Of all the things I have changed, the way I make decisions is perhaps the most significant. I’ve had my share of “what were you thinking?” moments, and looking back on some of my poor choices have left me wondering why I ever did some of the things I did.
Career and relationships are probably the two areas of my life in which I have struggled the most and I’m not alone. Why does it seem like we have to make so many bad choices before we start to figure things out?
I remember dating a girl years ago who insisted on maintaining a friendship with her ex-boyfriend. Now, you may be thinking the same thing I did at the time—if she didn’t want to be with him, why stay in touch? There’s nothing wrong with being civil after a break-up, but talking two or three times a week? Sorry, something about that didn’t add up. Remember, we’re talking about dating relationships here, not marriages; they didn’t have children or own property together. They were two people who couldn’t get along and were supposed to have gone their separate ways.
Even though I tried to ignore it for a while, the situation bothered me, so I approached her about it. I explained that I had a problem with their arrangement and didn’t think it was a good idea to continue talking to him if she and I were going to be together. I thought she would understand. After all, we weren’t kids--we were in our thirties.
I was wrong. Instead of understanding, she became angry and accused me of not trusting her. She claimed she had no feelings for the ex-boyfriend but it made her feel like a better person for being nice to him. I didn’t understand her reaction and the way she responded actually made me trust her less. At this point, you may be thinking I ended the relationship. That certainly would have been the right thing to do, but I didn’t. I stayed with her and gave her the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I stayed with her for two more years.
But I didn’t do it because I believed her. I did it because I wanted to believe her.
Before you call me crazy, think about it. Haven’t we all done something similar?
Maybe you ended up on the wrong end of a deal because your business partner lied to you, yet you stayed in business with that person.
Perhaps you thought you could trust a friend with a secret and they told everyone you know. You let them off the hook only for them to do it again.
Maybe you trusted that girlfriend (or boyfriend) and they betrayed you. But, like me, you stayed with them anyway.
You get the idea.
Sometimes we want things to work out so badly that we set ourselves up for failure. Later, after the dust settles and we realize what has happened, we become angry with the other person, people, or circumstances when we should really be angry with ourselves.
There are many reasons why we allow things to happen when perhaps we shouldn’t. Maybe we’re insecure or arrogant (as I’ve been). Maybe we don’t want to be alone, so we fall into relationships with the wrong people (like I did). Maybe we strive for success to the point of biting off more than we can chew financially (I did that, too). Maybe we just don’t take the time to notice the red flags when they’re flying in plain view (yep—done it. I’m going to stop now before I get really depressed).
So why is it so easy for us to look back—long after a decision has been made and with the situation behind us—to see what went wrong? One word: emotion.
You’ve probably heard it before and it’s true. You absolutely must remove as much emotion from situations as you possibly can to make good choices. You could be setting yourself up for a fall if you don’t. But doing that can be difficult. So how can we give ourselves a chance as we navigate the waters of decision-making?
I’ve found something that works for me and I’m going to recommend you give it a try. Submit the decision to God and ask him to give you the clarity and conviction to make the right choice. He’ll do it if you ask (though sometimes he’ll do it even when you don’t). After he shows you, the only thing you have to do is follow through. Even when it doesn’t turn out as you expected, at the very least, you’ll have peace about the choice you made. We can also take comfort in knowing that if we take the wrong turn, God will make the best out of it on our behalf—it’s called wisdom.
Take it from someone who has made his share of bad choices. Hey, I spent over two years in a relationship that shouldn’t have lasted two weeks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of time to waste anymore.
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