Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us~ 1st Peter 2:12
Years ago my husband and I made a decision. We knew from day one that the decision would have life-altering consequences for every member of our family. Because the stakes were so high, it was not something we decided quickly or lightly.
We prayed about it and debated the pros and cons (1st Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18). Sometimes into the wee-hours of the night. We sought the counsel of our Pastor and the advice of some Christian friends (Proverbs 13:20). Then, just when it started to feel as if we had discussed the whole issue to death we started the whole process all over again.
Once we got to the place where we were ready to pull the trigger and make the decision we were both fully convinced that it was indeed the right decision. It was the kind of decision that is easy to feel good about. It was noble and well intended. And although we didn’t do it to get the approval of other people, we did get a lot approval and that made us feel even better about our decision (Ephesians 2:10).
Life was good and we felt good about the choices we were making.
Then life got hard.
Really hard. Harder than I have words to describe. Every single one of the difficulties we were experiencing could be traced directly back to that one little decision that we had once felt so good about. The struggles we experienced during that period drove me to behave in ways that are not characteristic of me at all. I became weepy, indecisive, short-tempered and churlish. I found myself spilling our story to unwitting strangers and begging shamelessly for guidance from anyone who would hold still long enough to listen.
It’s almost a give that I made a lot of people super uncomfortable.
The low point in that awful, horrible year was the day I discovered that the weird and excruciatingly painful rash I had on my lower back and arms was shingles. My physician (not an empathetic woman) informed me in an extremely self-righteous and judgy tone that shingles are brought on by stress in people my age. She proceeded to give a long and rather callous lecture on the importance of proper stress management. I have never felt more judged in my life.
I cried all the way home.
The good news is that dreadful day marked a turning point in how we chose to deal with the situation. I realized, after an abundance of prayer and a great deal of thought that I did not want to go back and unmake our decision (James 1:2-4, 1st Peter 1:6, Romans 2:7). In my heart of hearts I knew we had done what God wanted us to do. I also recognized that attempting to undo our choice would resolve nothing and would in fact only add to the heartache.
We did decide to stop whining and make the decision right. We made the situation a matter of constant prayer. We sought wise counsel, introduced a series of really tough changes and worked our tails off to embrace a more positive attitude. Nothing magically transformed, but over time our situation did improve dramatically. I am pleased to report that today things look and feel totally different than they did on that awful day when I cried all the way home. Feelings are never the best way to gauge reality; that said, I can truthfully say we feel good about our decision once again.
At one point or another all of us face a good decision that appears to have gone terribly wrong. In those moments it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the difficulties we are experiencing are proof that we got it wrong and we need to undo whatever decision we once felt good about. Human beings appear to be hardwired to believe the lie that easy is always good and hard is always bad (Galatians 6:9).
Buying into that lie guarantees that we miss out on the blessings that can only be born out of hard work and sacrifice. It also keeps us from reaching a level of wisdom and maturity that can only be attained through problem solving and coming out the other side of tough situation truly victorious. Giving up and turning back also guarantees we will never really be Jesus to those who need it most (Hebrews 13:16).
I have learned over the course of the last few years that oftentimes the very best choices are the ones that involve a level of sacrifice, pain or hard work to make them doable. When the going gets tough is not the time to give up and throw in the towel. It is the time to double down on the choices God called us to make and trust Him to see us through to the other side (Hebrews, 6:10, Isaiah 49:14-16)