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.”

Axl Rose Was Right

Axl Rose Was Right

Actually, my pastor was right.

Never pray for patience, because when you do, God is more than happy to put you in situations where you need patience. Ever since Lee and I moved here to the Dominican Republic, I think I’ve prayed for patience on a daily basis. I know what you’re thinking, but you should know that living in the D.R. and being put in situations where you need patience are redundant.

So when I am in a jam where my head is about to explode, I think of two things. The first is another thing I learned at Relevant: Be the church. It’s a mantra that reminds me that regardless of the situation, I am called to be a reflection of God’s grace and love.

::whispering:: Be the church. Be the church. Be the church.

The second thing I think of is the chorus of perhaps my favorite Guns N’ Roses song called Patience. Although the song is about a relationship between a man and a woman, the lyrics of the chorus are applicable in any stressful, p.i.t.a. situation.

::singing in my head:: ♫ All we need is just a little patience. ♫

Today we completed some back to school shopping for some of the kids, and the scene inside the store we visited can be best described as chaotic. For reasons I can’t really explain (yet I understand because I grew up in Miami), the people here seem to be very impatient. Don’t get me wrong; Dominicans are sweet and friendly and inviting and generous, but they are absolutely not zen-like. Just spend a minute driving on the roads and you’ll understand.

So when there are nine people in line and there is only one person at the cash register, the vocal opinions start flying. Comments about how there should be other registers open abounded. People began looking to cut in line because they only had one item to buy. The atmosphere grew toxic quickly.

::singing in my head:: ♫ All we need is just a little patience. ♫

It’s important to note the store was not air-conditioned, the outside temperature was about 90 degrees, and it had just finished raining, so humidity was at a million percent. It was hot, sticky, crowded, noisy, the lady behind me was jabbing my ribs with her shopping basket, and there was a man in the corner that kept looking at me funny.

::singing in my head:: ♫ You and I just use a little patience. ♫

In looking at the lady working the register, you can see her counting the minutes in her head until closing time. She was being berated by customers, sometimes verbally, almost always visually. I stepped up to pay for my items, Axl Rose’s whistling still playing in my head.

I said hello and I wished her a good day. Startled, she looked up from her register as if in shock anyone would offer her a gesture of kindness. I smiled at her and she smiled back, I think more out of instinct than out of genuine reciprocation. We completed the transaction and I thanked her for her help. She looked at me and thanked me with her eyes. It was only a split second, but I can see it was a moment of relief she was able to experience before diving once again head first into the hornet’s nest.

::whispering:: Be the church.

Now I know this post smacks of humble-brag, but what I want to share is this: goodness begets goodness. In this particular case, patience begat kindness. For me, it became apparent all my prayers for patience were not for my benefit but rather for the benefit of others. All my hours in the proverbial furnace were not so I could appreciate the splendor of the refinement. They were so the woman at the register could have a tiny moment of joy in an otherwise joyless situation.

God does not work on us for our sake alone. God works on us for the betterment of His kingdom. And the thought of being an instrument for His glory is music to my ears.

 

Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

I drove into town today to get online and catch up with some email and other work items. I wish I could say I can easily get online at the children’s home, but whatever service they use for Internet is DOG SLOW. So much so I would argue it’s a waste of money for the organization since the Internet connection cannot be used effectively.

Sitting at the restaurant in Samana was better but still not nearly at the speed to which I am accustomed in the states. If this is how the Internet is all over the island, then I think I’m trouble. When I spoke to Mike, I explained how I can live without hot water and air conditioning, but I draw the line at bad Internet. Although I am only half-joking, I do realize part of being a missionary is having to let go of the comforts to which I am accustomed.

Still, Lee and I have such big plans and ideas for the children’s home, and many of those ideas require a reliable, functional, and fast Internet connection. I guess we’ll be focusing our prayers on a viable solution for when we arrive.