Pick!

Pick!

From a recent conversation with a friend. 

“Hey, man. You look good.”

“Thanks, dude.”

“I mean it. You look …. at peace.”


There can be some anxiety that comes with decision making. Just the idea of having to make a decision is enough to trigger anxious feelings in people.

I have an interesting perspective on decision making, one that is not rooted in science or statistics, and one that you should definitely not take seriously. There’s an old anecdotal quote that is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my axe.”

When it comes to making a big decision, I want all the data. I want all the analysis. I want to spend six hours sharpening the axe by going over ‘what-if’ scenarios. I am horrible at chess, but I totally get the need to look five, six, seven moves ahead and strategize the long game.

I want to prepare, pray, pause, and then push forward with the decision.

Yet regardless of the effort, the end result of the decision – whether it was right or wrong, prudent or foolish, advantageous or disastrous – is pretty binary. It will have either been a good decision or not.

Fifty-fifty. Flip a coin. Prepare all you want, but it either will or it won’t.

I had a big decision to make recently. Drastic is not the right word, but it was definitely impactful to my current state of life. There was a lot to weigh in the decision, but being on this side of it, it didn’t feel like a weighty decision. There was a lot to process both going into the decision and as a result, but the conclusion has felt rather simple by comparison.

There was definitely a lot of prayer in all of this. I feel blessed Lee and I were able to learn from our experiences as missionaries in the Dominican Republic and apply those lessons to this process. First and foremost, take it to God. It’s been my experience that it is highly ineffective to try and figure things out on my own. By being intentional in my prayers to and conversations with God, I’ve been able to find clarity. Surrendering your burdens to Him is proverbially sharpening your axe for six hours.

Secondly, conversation was critical. Starting with my wife – my partner and sounding board and confidant – I was able to just talk through the pros and cons of the decision. How would it impact me? How would it impact us? How do we see the short-term playing out? What do we want our long-term to be? In putting the pieces on the board and playing out different variations of moves, we were able to narrow it down to what we felt was the best thing to do.


The decision was made, and although there is a world of unknowns ahead, I am at peace with what I’ve decided to do. Even more so when I feel my Heavenly Father continues to send me God winks along the way. The little signs are subtle reassurances that by having trusted in Him, I can trust in whatever comes next. Instead of stress and anxiety, I can wade in the calm and even perhaps feel a little giddiness and excitement.

“I mean it. You look …. at peace.”

In The Beginning

In The Beginning

Sunday, March 1, 1987. A fourteen-year-old kid arrives at the Orange Bowl in Miami with his older brother and cousin to see the rock band Genesis. It was his first concert ever. That boy was me.

Music is such an integral part of my life and my love of music was born from the influence of my older cousins. It was they who introduced me to the magic of Billy Joel, Elton John, and Genesis. It was my curious study of their respective album collections that opened my eyes – and ears – to the likes of Peter Frampton, The Who, and David Bowie. And it was on a cool Sunday evening that I stood in the stands of the legendary Orange Bowl with sixty-seven thousand other fans to take in musical talents of Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, and the incomparable Phil Collins.

Phil Collins would become one of my favorite musical performers. His work, both as a solo artist and as the frontman for Genesis, would create a musical baseline for my life that can only be described as comfort food for my ears. The relationship with Collins’ music would only be enhanced given its integration with the show Miami Vice. As a wide-eyed teen enamored with the glamorous portrayal of my hometown on the small screen, it was so cool to hear Phil’s music featured on the show (he had a single from each of his first three albums included in the series).

The impact of music in my life would explode in 2006 when I was introduced to the group of people I affectionately refer to as my music family, and I am always seeking a connection with a song that transcends just melodies and harmonies. Every once in a while, there is a song that resonates lyrically and speaks to my soul. It may be my mood at that moment, it may be the situation I am experiencing, it may be something I am longing or dreaming to do; music has a way of hooking into those emotions and making an indelible mark.

That’s what happened recently when I found myself sorting through old 45 records from my childhood. I’d brought them home with me from Miami following my mother’s passing, and I randomly decided to put on on the record player and give it a listen. I had been praying and pondering about a decision, one that would mean the opening and closing of doors in my life.

And then God spoke to me.

We said goodbye to a dear old friend
And we packed our bags and left feeling sad
It’s the only way
We said hello as we turned the key
A new roof over our heads
Gave a smile
It’s the only way
Only way

Turn your head
And don’t look back
Set your sails for a new horizon
Don’t turn around don’t look down
Oh there’s life across the tracks
And you know it’s really not surprising
It gets better when you get there

I’ve said it before, coincidence is just God showing off. And at this moment, with the nostalgic crackling and hiss of the phonograph in the background, God made His answer to me loud and clear.

When we’re faced with a tough and uncomfortable choice, sometimes all there is to do is listen.

 

Changing of the Guard (?)

Uncertainty can be so uncomfortable. What’s next? Will we do this? What about that? I love having a plan, and like John “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together.

When things don’t happen according to plan, however, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos.

Right now, we’re in the middle of a transition period with my daughter and her path as a young, competitive soccer player. There are decisions to be made. There are adjustments to be considered. There is a valley of uncertainty we need to cross.

Normally, I’d be wallowing in my own anxiety. I don’t really care for uncertainty. I’m reminded of a time when my wife suggested we spontaneously get in the car and drive to South Florida. She thought it would be ‘fun’ to just drive until we get tired and then find a hotel along the way. My furrowed brow must’ve said all that needed to be said, because she could immediately tell I was not understanding the words coming out of her mouth.

“So you’re saying we don’t need a reservation first?” I asked incredulously.

“No. We just pull into a hotel and tell them we need a room.”

“People do that?”

With the situation with my daughter, I WANT to know what will come next. What will be the changes with for next season? What will be my daughter’s decision with regards to school versus club sports? Is she going to re-dedicate herself to what’s she’s been working on for the last four to five years?

But all this is like going to the movies and wanting to fast forward to the end just as the movie starts. What fun would that be? What makes a movie great is the story it tells throughout. There are ups and downs. There are plot twists. There are moments that will scare you, anger you, and relieve you.

Life is the same way.

In my faith journey, I’ve learned to replace anxiety with the perspective of anticipation; anticipation in finding out how God – the master screenwriter – will reveal the story’s eventual ending to me. It’s a reminder that just because things are not going great now, they won’t be great again later. It’s in these moments of anxiety that I’ve learned I’m in the middle of a story that still needs to play out.

That’s not to say there are no decisions to make. God calls us to work so that we arrive at where it is He wants us to be. I need to be patient and supportive with my daughter as she weighs her options going forward. I need to find the healthful balance between pushing her too hard and being blasé as a dad. I need to provide counsel, yet ensure the decisions she makes are indeed hers. 

I need to remember the end of the chapter is still off in the distance.

So we will press forward in prayer and in the knowledge that anxiety is useless, especially when we have faith in the story He’s written for us.

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