On Shattering My Unhealthy Obsession with Perfect Decisions

Guest Post by Heather Miller

When my husband and I have a night in I know we face a decision…what will we watch? I know that Liam will do his shortlist thing at this point. Over time he is learning to actually keep these shortlists short because I am allergic to decisions. I will eliminate one or two options but usually I manipulate Liam into making the final decision. I don’t need that kind of responsibility in my life!

I am obsessed with Perfect Decisions.

Lately, I have been hiding from the Bible. I mean I “use” the Bible, but there has been a seed of resentment, a measure of weariness, a kernel of disappointment that has held me in check. This mild ache has often prevented me from picking up the thick book that I once poured over, thirsting for words and wisdom, drawing out water from rock, soaking in the spring rains, savouring the honey. It has prevented me from giving myself over to the Word with my usual abandon. I know now that I reached a point where I was demanding more from its pages than I was open to receive. Because I had experienced the illumination of its words, the sense of it being so living and active, the Spirit impressing upon my heart; I started to demand the kind of illumination that would serve my purposes. I wanted to know what to do with my life. I wanted to find answers so that I might live a safe and favoured life. Perhaps, this is quite a natural response for someone who gets anxious, for whom the word “career” invokes a whole host of insecurities.

Only thing is, all my striving and pressured reading and eyes-peeled-for-signs and begging of God ended in a job that made me hate myself. A job that was often like water to my lungs, sandpaper to my bones. There were times I confess I felt a little betrayed. Hadn’t I tried? Hadn’t I been seeking? Even now I feel paralysed by options. What an incredible privilege it is to have options…and what a source of anxiety.

Last night I was off-loading my current concerns and, in his gentle wisdom, Liam suggested that maybe there are many paths that we could choose and that God would bless. And so under today’s date in my prayer journal sits the thought, “perhaps no decision is perfect”. I picked up the good thick book and with a sense of uncertainty, of tentative hope and some fear, I landed on Psalm 145. Tears crept and then tumbled as I read over this exuberant celebration of an abundant God.

The Lord is gracious and merciful

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all,

and his compassion is over all he has made.”

For so long I have confronted decisions with an unhealthy intensity, hoping to catch the goodness of God by making the “right” one. But the goodness of God is not scarce. It is not a rare jewel to be seized and tucked away in a secure place, under lock and key, for fear of losing the advantage. His favour is not won through excellent and untainted decision-making. God is not only honoured through staying or through leaving.

His compassion is over all he has made. It is a life-giving, life-renewing, heart-woven blanket, a generous covering of creation. Invisible, made visible through love, in all the breathtaking ways love is enacted.

His love is steadfast. My mistakes have no lasting power over me. Rather my sweet anointed Jesus has power over my mistakes. For, “The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.”

My decision to be a teacher was far from perfect. But would I take it back, now I’m on the other side? It would be nice never to have experienced that pain, but I was forged in the fire. I am learning to look those memories in the eye. I’m not sure if I can honestly say I am stronger, but I believe I am richer than before. I have more compassion, like the God celebrated in Psalm 145. And my marriage is certainly all the more beautiful and cherished for those experiences.

My idol has been the Perfect Decision. While I still believe strongly in wise decisions, I am clinging less to the idea of God’s favour resting on a single path. How would that signal steadfast love? Why would the Lord not then speak? Life began to feel like a cruel guessing game in which I was the loser.

But there is a truth I hold and it is that I am beloved.

It will take time to loosen my grip on my desire for answers. I habitually seek guidance in prayer. And every significant decision feels like jumping off a high tower. But I want to try seeking guidance a little less. For a little while I just want to be beloved.

I am still not sure what I will choose. It’s okay.

I’m coming out of the cloud, out of the wind, not with a law but with a Spirit.

Maybe next time I’ll choose the movie.