Saturday, October 20, 2012

Making Decisions

Making decisions is not my forte.  I'm fairly indecisive... not because I don't have a preference or an opinion...I have plenty of those.  I'm indecisive because I'm afraid of criticism. I'm afraid of making someone unhappy with the choices I've made, thus making them unhappy with me.  I'm like this because I, myself, am an extremely critical person. I walk into a room and immediately notice all the things wrong in the room.  While most people can see this as a downfall... and I would agree, I have learned that God can take any negative character trait and use it for His good.  And so, although I am a critical person, that same criticism in the hands of God makes me someone who is pretty darn good at surmising a situation, predicting the potential pitfalls, and ultimately avoiding a lot of anguish.

So how does an indecisive, critical person turn into a decisive, discerning  person?  Only through Christ.

First, being in God's Word, I started understanding the sin in my own thoughts.  I also began to replace those thoughts with the Truth I found in Scripture.

Here's an example of a real situation:

Every time I went into the bathroom and saw that the toilet paper roll sat empty and hadn't been changed, or that it had been put on backwards... my blood would boil.  I mean, seriously, HOW HARD IS IT??  See the "righteous" anger here?  :::she said dripping with sarcasm:::  Now, to be fair, this is a common, familial problem.  So common, that we laugh about it often in conversations... comedians use it in their routines and sitcoms have capitalized on this annoying scenario.  But I'm no comedian, and I don't live in a sitcom, and the effect that this annoyance was having on me was severe and in no way funny.  I would steam with indignation and anger.  It became a personal attack against ME.  (tip: anytime you become the center of your thoughts, you are more than likely in the wrong).

And then I heard something.  I mean like "those who have ears to hear, let them hear" kind of hearing.  Through a mother's class I was attending, I heard that I was wrong.  I heard that I was hurting the relationships I had with the members of my family.  I heard that I was selfish and quick to anger.  I heard that I wasn't loving my family as God had called me to love them.  I repented.  I asked for help in my thoughts... and I made a decision.**

I made a decision that the next time, and every time after, when the toilet paper roll went unchanged and I noticed it... because I ALWAYS noticed it,  I would view that as a reminder to pray for each member of my family.  Right there, right then.  I made the decision to replace my selfish anger with a selfless act.  At first the prayers were mumbled through tightened teeth... but as I continued in my practice, I found that I actually smiled... like God and I had an inside joke.  Eventually, the anger was gone.  I saw this as nothing less than a miracle.  A miracle of God's grace to me.

I started making other "decisions".
I now pray for each family member as I wash, fold, and iron their clothes.
I thank God for dirty dishes sitting in the sink that represent the health of my children (this continues to be a particularly difficult one for me).

It branched towards others outside of my family.
I decided to slow down my reactions to offensive things people said or did.
I substitute my criticism for reflection and in doing this, I find I am less inwardly focused and more able to see the needs someone else might have.

While I believe my critical eye should always be submissive to God's requests of love and service to my neighbor, I have learned that God can actually take that which has been tainted by sin and restore it to be a benefit to me and those I serve. I'm not just behaving in a less critical manner.  He has made me less critical.

Through our faith in Christ, our "old Adam" is buried. 
And through our faith in Christ our "new Adam" is brought to life.
This is how criticism can become discernment.

Slowly, and not without setbacks, I have become someone who makes decisions... sometimes. ;)

 **When I say that "I made the decision", I mean it only in the sense that farmers "grow" crops.  Truly it is the design of the seed by God that actually causes a plant to grow.  The farmer waters and cares for the crop, but it is still God's work that produces fruit. So, I may move my mouth in prayer, or close it so nothing rude comes out, but it is God who grants the results of peace, patience, goodness, etc. (Just wanted to be clear on that). 

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