It’s a short distance but a long ride
Sometimes in our lives we are faced with decisions that can paralyze us. These decisions become lines of demarcation in our hearts, like emotional tattoos. I recently went through a decision process that felt like a marathon for my soul. It really wasn’t even a decision that would cause the average person much angst but it was, I think, cosmically created to be difficult for me. Let me explain…
There is a saying that “perfection is the enemy of the good.” It is used often in the context of public policy and business decisions. The idea is that we often get so caught up in the machinations of making something perfect, that we could have produced a product that would’ve been “good” in the time we’ve spent fighting about the details of perfection. I hate to admit it but I spend a decent portion of my life in search of perfection. In my flawed mind, “good” is the easy way out, it is not pushing quite hard enough. Essentially “good” is painting your toes with one coat of polish instead of two….the color is there but it isn’t as brilliant or long lasting as it could be.
As I embarked upon this decision, I was tossed from mountain top to valley floor in the span of a few minutes. The opportunity presented itself and I was so flattered. However, by the time I got in the car and drove 5 miles I had come up with an extensive list of pros and cons. I had begun the process of self doubt and it sucked me into my own head like a giant vacuum. A Dyson vacuum.
This decision had all the elements – family, friends, kids, work, home, finances, spirituality, etc. It touched every part of my life. As I wrestled with the decision, I found myself asking several people for advice. With each conversation my mind was changed. With each conversation a little part of me was taken out of the decision making process and the other person’s opinion was put in its’ place. This was making my mind a patchwork quilt of other peoples reasoning. I am not saying that getting advice from others isn’t good, it just isn’t always healthy.
As I reached a full fever pitch, I called my sister and began the process of unloading all of the pros and cons once again. She wisely suggested that I stop talking about this. No really, just stop talking. This was a novel idea. So I took her up on her suggestion and vowed not to talk to anyone about this issue for 48 hours and just ask God and my heart to do some communicating of the non-verbal sort.
Amazingly enough, after only about 12 hours of silence a peace started to settle over me and the Bible verse “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” came to my mind. I wondered why and what it might mean. I spent the next 12 hours meditating on that verse and then it hit me. I have the freedom to walk through this door. My life probably won’t fall apart if I do. In fact, it could be great. However, just because it is permissible to do so, doesn’t mean that in the long run it will be beneficial.
As young women, we learn at a young age that there are times to say “no.” Sometimes it’s easy, like when the dessert put in front of you involves absolutely no chocolate…what a waste! Other times it’s hard, like when the dessert is warm brownies… a la mode. The level of temptation rises like a jet airliner when the “something” we are trying to resist is really irresistible. Like how girls almost all learn the hard way that, yes you can go out with the “bad boy” and it might be awesome for a week but it doesn’t mean it won’t end poorly.
As adults, bigger “desserts” get dangled in front of us, like jobs. Desserts with six figures and a good pension plan. It is almost as hard to say “no” to good pension plans as it is to warm chocolate. When these issues present themselves, we have two options, one is to run headlong into the great unknown. The second is to take stock of what you already have in front of you before you jump. As I attempted this exercise, amidst an unfortunate degree of emotionalism, I found a few things out. First of all, my life is amazing. Seriously. I have the best of both worlds. I am a committed mother and a career woman. I can do both. I am doing both. I have a beautiful family and network of friends that support me. I have a husband that would walk across hot coals for me…which is, I suspect, what he felt like he did this week watching me flip and flop like a carp on beach.
I learned something else from this decision. The tattoo etched on my psyche this week was the value of free will. I am free. Really free to do as I please. I can run naked through town. I can sleep with the cable guy. I can shoplift. I can base jump. I can have 6 kids. I can eat warm brownies a la mode every day. It just doesn’t mean that I won’t get arrested, come down with a VD, pay high life insurance rates and need a tummy tuck. Freedom doesn’t mean free from.
So, for me, the best decision is going to be staying put. I am going to enjoy what I have and know that I am free to choose differently at any time…and that, is almost as good as warm chocolate.
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