I recently made a life-changing decision. I said “yes” to a question that will alter my future. Permenantly. On Christmas Day, at Yosemite, Jim Turner took a knee and asked, “Sheryl, I love you. Will you marry me?” Since Jim and I had dated more than a year, I knew the proposal for marriage was coming. He didn’t pressure me, and we had given our relationship time; a beautiful thing was happening. Through the providence of God, we helped each other heal from the loss of our spouses. “Two are better than one, because . . . if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9–10
The question I deliberated over for months was not whether or not I wanted to be married to Jim. I love this man and have found a deeper communion with God through Him. The question was, What does God want for my future? I’d prayed, discussed it with my counselor, talked about it with girlfriends, and even pondered it with my mother. You see, behind the proposal was quite an involved process. This decision, like many others I’ve made, affects me and will affect my family, friends, future, ministry, and time. “I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” Proverbs 4:11-13
Last fall, I ran across a blog that helped me sort out making my decision. I think you’ll find it helpful. If you are in the midst of a decision, whether big or small, take time to work through these questions and write out your thoughts, feelings, and questions in your journal. That’s right, write out everything; something happens when you write down your decision-making process longhand. You are able emotionally to dump excess unwanted baggage and will unload negative issues as you are writing. Through the writing process, you will automatically feel lighter and your thoughts will begin to untangle. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23–24
“Taking My Medicine” by Melanie Watkins, MD (excerpt from blog)
- Is the decision a final one?
- Know your values and make your decisions based on this. Family and the manner in which you grew up may influence your values, but only you can truly define what is most important to you.
- The good old-fashioned pros and cons list. Questions like: What will I gain, and what will I lose? What are the consequences, both positive and negative? Short term and long term? What will this mean for me and those around me? If it doesn’t work out, what other options does it allow me?
- Do the research and write it all out. Part of what makes decision-making so stressful is having all the thoughts whirling around in your head.
- Ask people who have shown good judgment in the past. Are there people who you admire who tend to make good decisions? Ask them for their words of wisdom.
- Ask God for strength, resources and wisdom to help you make this difficult decision. (Sheryl’s note: Enlist others to pray for you and your decision. Pray without ceasing, petition, and plead with your Heavenly Father until you have God’s answer in His time.)
- Can the decision be delayed? What are some other factors? Is the timing right? Are the people right? Is the situation right? Make decisions based on your values and you will succeed!
This path is different than what I had planned. However God is still on His throne. I have seen God’s direction, plan, and purpose: He sent a Godly, prayerful, Word-loving, family-serving, ministry-minded man to marry me. We’ll spend our future together and share our lives. Jim is a love-gift from God, specifically designed for me. As I mentioned in a previous blog, “I am the most surprised person of all.” But to be even more vulnerable with you, I can’t explain how difficult it is for me to be on the receiving end of blessing. I know how to do suffering, but I don’t know how to receive blessing. When I made the decision to believe God and to chose to trust God and said yes, I’ve experienced overwhelming and unexplainable peace. As Jim and I walk in our “new normal,” we’ve seen God’s hand of blessing provide for us as we prepare for life together. We’ve also seen His sustaining and healing power hard at work in the lives of our children, my parents, our late spouses’ families, friends and ministry partners. It’s amazing what happens when we trust God as we make a decision. Love it when that happens.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7
Friend, are you making a major decision right now? If not, I am sure you will. May I pray for you?
Dear Heavenly Father, I commit our decision-making process to you. Lord, let us let your Holy Spirit lead our process. Help us to wait on you and your timing. Let us be willing to let you lead and guide us as we follow your steps. Thank you for giving us guidance through your Word and the wise counsel of those who love us and You. Thank you for the peace that directs us in the way we should go. We love and praise you. In Jesus’ name, amen.