Happy Sunday, friends!
Many of you may not know I write a monthly column in our local community newspaper, The Homewood Star. I’ve been writing it for ten years now, and I’ve gone from writing about trying to figure out how to get my one-year-old daughter to nap to pondering her impending middle school years. I’ve written about socks and dog toys and family health scares and kids on smartphones and spilling a perfectly creamed and sugared cup of coffee. It’s been a fun way to document our family’s life but also write about things in my mind and on my heart that I think are universal to people at all stages of life.
This month I wrote about decisions…or more accurately, indecision. I’m including it here, but you can also find my most recent columns on my website here. (You’ll find them under the “Other Writing” tab at the top.)
Finding Trust in Indecision
I read somewhere that the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions per day.
I have a feeling during the craziness of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number probably tripled, but even now, when things do feel like they’re calming down, there’s still a decision at every turn. And if indecision is something you struggle with — as I tend to do — you know how exhausting it can be, if not paralyzing.
Sometimes just pulling into my driveway after dropping the kids off from school freezes me into paralysis. I know there are so many things I need to do with my day, so many ways I can fill my seven child-free hours, but often, unable to make the call of what needs to come first — walk the dog, put the laundry in, run to Publix, return the email, or, oh right, maybe eat breakfast — instead I sit in my car and scroll through Instagram because it’s easy and it doesn’t require me to make a decision.
As an author, this indecision often shows up in my writing. Specifically when I’m in the middle of a novel, as I am right now as I write this column. I near the midway point and the boat I’m rowing across this vast ocean starts to spring leaks. The book feels like it’s falling apart, and I don’t know what to do to make it better.
Fix the holes?
Go back to the shore and try another route?
Unable to make a decision about which course to take, I sit in my sinking boat and pray I can flag down a passing ship. Or heck, even someone in a seaworthy canoe would work. (Side note: Writing a book is hard.)
Take a quick look on the internet and you’ll find all kinds of words thrown together about indecision, specifically how not to be indecisive: Figure out your long-term goal and pick the choice that fits it best…Letting go of people-pleasing tendencies will help you make better decisions…It’s easy to come to decisions if you just express all your thoughts and feelings.
If you’re feeling a little less introspective, there’s the wisdom of the Lazy Genius. She talks about decisions you make once, so that you don’t have to make them again. For example, make spaghetti every Monday night. No need to think about it. Or toilet Tuesdays — you know on Tuesdays, at least one toilet will be cleaned. Or make the one-time decision to walk for an hour every single day — good for the body, good for the mind, and you don’t have to decide if you’ll fit in exercise, because it’s already decided.
There’s a lot of good wisdom in all of this, both the introspective and the practical, but I think for me, the issue is much deeper.
More than not expressing all my feelings or my desire to skip a toilet Tuesday, I think much of my indecision has to do with not trusting that God will take care of me. Or my people. When decisions are many and any path seems like an OK choice, it usually feels like it’s up to me to figure out the single one that will make the situation turn out perfectly.
The last time I wrote about my struggle with indecision, it was regarding a schooling choice for one of our daughters. The decision was keeping me up at night and taking over all my waking thoughts. These days, indecision coats everything from what camps to sign my kids up for this summer to how to get out of the middle of the ocean in my sinking book boat.
If I take a step back from what feels like impossible decisions — those that make me feel alone in my struggle — I remember a verse that always slips onto my shoulder when I get in a place like this:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it.”
It doesn’t mean I’ll mysteriously or supernaturally have the ability to make the perfect decision at every turn, but it reminds me that God has given me a wide space in which to move, and whatever prayerful, thoughtful decision I make, He will use it for his glory and my good.
Meatless Mondays and Toilet Tuesdays may help in the short-term, but I’ll keep trying to let it settle down deep in my bones that it’s not up to me to make any situation work out perfectly, and I’m not alone as I row in my little boat.
What I fell asleep reading last night…
This one is a reread for me. I read it a couple years ago and loved it. It is utterly charming. I’m reading slowly so I don’t have to say good-bye to Laura and Sunshine and Freddy and Bomber and Eunice.
Last things and links…
THE ONE YOU’RE WITH comes out July 6! You probably hear authors talk a lot about preorders, and there’s a reason why. All preorders count toward the book’s first week of sales, and as the Friends and Fiction ladies tell us, that helps with book *propulsion* which is what not only helps a book end up on bestseller lists, but that tells booksellers, libraries, and big box stores (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc) what books people want to read. So if you know you’re going to want to read a book when it comes out, consider preordering it and helping the author! (You can preorder THE ONE YOU’RE WITH anywhere you buy books. Visit this page on my website for lots of preordering options!)
Hope you have the best week!