Jonah, blank pages, and analysis paralysis

Thursday, 18 June 2015

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I'm so sorry! I've been spending some amazing quality time with my loved ones, so that's been great. But I've also been busy doing ... well, life stuff.

It is safe to say I am at a crossroads in my life right now.

Without going into too much detail, I have a decision to make. To be honest, what the situation is doesn't actually matter. It's the way I deal with it (or, rather, the way I fail at dealing with it) that is in question here.

The question is:

What do you do when you just don't know what to do?

A blank page in a notebook is always a bit daunting to me. That first blank page. What do you do with it? What if you write and it's all ... wrong? There's just something about a crisp, new sheet of paper that gives me what we call in our board gaming circles 'analysis paralysis.'

Analysis paralysis. I just can't decide. So I don't do anything.

This is how I get over the fear of a new page: I write on it. I just grab a pen or pencil and start drawing or writing or whatever. Even if it's naff and awful. Even if it's just my name and the date. I just write something. Once I've made that first step, the rest feels a little easier.

This is probably how I should approach my decision making.

The thing is, I analyse each option to death. I write lists of pros and cons for each thing in my head and mull over it. I imagine every scenario I can think of. I contemplate the various ways my decision might impact Chris and Jellybean.

And I pray. Boy, do I pray. They start tentative 'Please, Lord, could you help me see what Your will is for me?' and turn into 'Lord pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease just tell me what to do, I can't decide, please please pleaaaaaaase.'

(I am very good at prayer.)

Anyway. The truth is, life with God isn't like that. He doesn't force us down a particular road - we have free will. Therefore we have decisions to make. Sometimes, God speaks very clearly into people's lives about what they have to do and sometimes, for reasons unknown to us, He doesn't.

Right now I am studying Jonah and it is very interesting, partly because beyond being swallowed by an enormous fish, I didn't know anything about him. In fact, I don't think I've ever read the book of Jonah despite it being incredibly short (usually a selling point for me). Anyway, I found myself frustrated with Jonah (before I understood how much going to Ninevah, a land where the people living there had potentially slaughtered people he loved) because, you know, dude, at least you knew what to do. At least God made it clear to you even though you didn't like the answer.

Alright. I would still not want to trade places with Jonah.

But I see that a lot in scripture. People seemed to just know what to do. (If someone could point me to a Psalm where David says something along the lines of 'Lord, show me what to do, for I do not like this not knowing business' that would be helpful).

Joking aside (well, I was only kind of joking about the Psalm thing) I do kind of get why God doesn't tell us everything. It's not for us to know everything that He does. He knows what information we can handle.

But in the meantime, what do I do when I can't decide what to do?

I was talking to my very good friend (and very patient prayer partner) Sarah about this, as we shared our mutual tales of frustration and indecision, and she said something along the lines of 'Do you know what, sometimes you just have to start pushing doors and see if one of them opens.'

Yep. That pretty much sums it up. So yes, I might be a bit sporadic in my blog posting at the moment, but it is probably because I am pushing some doors. Some doors I'm practically hammering down to try and get in, but you know, I believe it will work out in the end.

Because I read things like this:

'While our insatiable desire to know it all seems to rarely be satisfied, we must discipline ourselves to place confidence in His decision to give us the information we need to successfully accomplish the step we are on in the journey. He doesn't withhold information because He doesn't love you but because of His great love for you.' - Priscilla Shirer, Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted

So I suppose I'll have to figure it out over time. I will push a few doors, and see which one opens. And maybe I will report back when it does!

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