“Not This!”

“Not This!” January 20, 2007

I was talking with a friend today about how to make difficult decisions.

I must be very naive, but I had thought, that is, I was under the impression, that once you got past the biggies (prom dress—strapless or sleeves?) that the process got easier.

I’d thought there might be a point at which you could sort of turn on the cruise control and take a little break, that the road signs would be clearer and the “right decision” more easily identifiable.

Well, add that one to The List of Misimpressions Amy Had About Life.

To my credit, I thought I’d read something about that in the Bible somewhere. At least that’s what they told us in high school youth group (God will show you the right decision . . . all the time . . . in every circumstance . . . almost like magic!). However, I must confess that almost nothing about adult decision-making has seemed to me to be easy, fun, or, most of all, obvious.

My husband would explain this phenomenon by telling you my problem lies in the fact that very little in my decision-making process is logical. That is, I have to figure out how the decision FEELS in order to make a definitive choice.

Thank goodness the friend with whom I was talking today totally understood my strange approach. She described it this way: “You know, sometimes you can say ‘Not This!’. Of course you don’t know exactly which way to go when that happens, but saying ‘Not This!’ narrows it down.”

I know the technical term for this mode of thinking is “process of elimination”. Very different (I know from living with Mark) from making a list of logical, factual evidence, carefully weighing that evidence then deciding the most sensible course of action.

I already know myself well enough to know I can’t make a chart of factual points. However, I realized today that I can usually say, “Not This!” with a certain amount of clarity, at least some of the time. My friend’s affirmation helped me see that, even if I don’t always know the right step to take, it’s something to be able to declare with conviction: “Not This!

This is not the first time in my life I’ve pondered the tricky task of decision-making.

I started to think I’d been under a mistaken impression about decisions getting easier and all that, oh, about midway through my twenties. Among the many and increasing decisions that come with adult and parenthood, we were at one point faced with a very difficult decision that involved two good options.

I called my friend and preaching professor, Hardy Clemons, to whine about the predicament in which I found myself. Which decision was the RIGHT decision? What course of action was GOD’S WILL? Hardy chuckled and said to me, “Well, isn’t that great!?! Looks to me like God’s inviting you to voice an opinion about the direction of your life. I love when that happens!”

(Yeah, thanks for the help, there, Hardy.)

So as I muddle my way through young adulthood into (gulp!) middle age, I’m beginning to have the sneaky suspicion that it doesn’t, in fact, always get easier. (“Which retirement community should I move into?,” for example. Already the question is nagging.)

But today I added another tool to my arsenal of decision making weapons. I can, very often, say with conviction: “Not This!” and maybe, by saying that, I move just a little closer to “This! Yes! This!”. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

So today I am thinking this might be the case. Yes, I think so. Or maybe not . . . I just can’t decide . . . .

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