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Decision-Making When You’re Life Depends on it, and When it Doesn’t

The day is etched in my memory with tattoo ink. I recall the season vividly—new life budding, colors tantalized our already heightened senses. But life wasn’t new or fresh for us.

As shadows crept across the walls of the front room, my brother and I talked with our Dad on speaker. After combing through pages of clinical trial information, it was time. My brother had to make a decision. 

When decisions have life or death consequences, they take on a life of their own—a foreboding presence lurking in the shadows of twilight.


Our Dad’s emotions finding life, sentiment thickened the room. To this day, I’ve never seen him cry, and he’s well acquainted with loss. Unwelcome tears threatened. My throat ached with effort to squelch them. My brother didn’t need someone else to comfort, he needed a clear-minded confidant.

Agonizingly, we discussed the numerous side effects, including death. Number crunching and analysis seemed useless because, in the end, it was my beloved brother’s life hanging in the balance of this “yay or nay.” But as Dad spoke, hope materialized like a lifeboat for a sea-stranded sailor. Gently and wisely, his words ate away weeks of worry. 

Our Heavenly Father knew just what we needed, and from whom it best to come. In the end, the “yay’s” had it—my brother’s tumor shrank 32% before surgery, or maybe 23%?  Substantial whatever the number, we recently rejoiced at his graduation to “Cancer Survivor!”

While not all of the 35,000 decisions we make daily are this weighty, they can be anxiety-inducing nonetheless. The fact that we make 35,000 is cause enough.

Recently, I’ve learned much regarding my own decision-making—confronting fear, procrastination and distraction. Through counseling and research, I’ve come face-to-face with my fears and unhealthy choices regarding decision-making.

For us chronic non-decision makers or the decision-fatigued, leaving decisions to others in the name of—I naively thought—being agreeable, is insensitive at best, manipulative at worst. Naturally strong decision-makers don’t want the burden of making them all. It’s exhausting being the mind-reader. For those of us who think it rude to speak up, it’s honesty others crave.

Passivity never produces the fruit of, well, anything. It’s a decision of indecision—an escape of ownership.

When asked what we’d like or dislike, best practice is to answer truthfully. Trust me; my people have come clean regarding the stress it causes.

My daughter recently discovered a marvelous tool for her indecision. She asks someone to make the decision for her.“Sweetheart, remember what we learned?” I reminded her. 

 “Oh no, I ask someone to make my decision; if I’m disappointed or excited, I know the answer.”


But we still haven’t gotten to answers about decision-making.  I hope to equip you with life-giving decision-making tools, discovering simple and soulful rhythms in the coming weeks. 

*To begin, probably the greatest impact on decisions is our view of God, ourselves and others.

Uncovering the past is often key to our future.

Our views of God were formed in childhood, whether we knew of Him or not.

How do you see God?

  • Wrathful 
  • Distant 
  • Vengeful
  • Indifferent
  • Exacting
  • Gentle and lowly
  • Caring and close
  • Loving and merciful
  • A genie
  • Nonexistent 

Spend time with Jesus, ask for discernment and get honest. Don’t write what you should think, but what you actually believe. He already knows and loves you fiercely, right where you are.

Next, what do you believe about yourself?

  • To get started—a list of commonly believed lies, of which I believed most.

Ask Jesus for insight. Allow your pen to take on a life of its own. Don’t edit, second-guess or write what you think you should.

Answers may surface slowly, as 85% of people are self-unaware. Hard to believe, right!? Tasha Urich’s—dare I say—insightful book, Insight, counseled me in self-awareness. 

This practice reveals lies needing the truth told to them. You might uncover wounds requiring healing, or a different story than you expected. Allow your story space and freedom to come alive.

Lastly, what do you think of others?

My list was woeful indeed:

  • Untrustworthy
  • Uncaring 
  • Fickle 
  • Judgmental

*Dig deep; these views were established early and remain fixed unless we intentionally change them. 

Our view of God, self and others impacts every decision we make.

Friend, I’m with you, and together, we’ll discover a more beautiful view of God, His people, and insight into who we truly are—His beloved. 

Meet me here next week to clear a pathway to straightforward decision-making. 

The mind of a person plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

*Changes that Heal, by Dr. Henry Cloud

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