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Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Every day we make multitudes of decisions. Many of our choices are simple or not particularly important, and we barely think about them. Other times the decisions we make are life-changing. Sometimes there can be so much choice we are overwhelmed and can’t make a decision. Sometimes we have tunnel vision and our focus on one particular choice blinds us to other options in our decision-making. Oddly, a decision about what to wear on a particular day can create more anxiety than a major decision about our future.

We all struggle with decisions and it is worth understanding what is going on when we are making them.

Making good decisions

Moods and feelings can play a part in our decision-making. Being angry, ecstatically happy, or miserable may lead us to take risks. Going shopping when feeling sad is a path to over-spending, and being ecstatically happy may lead us to ignore physical danger.

At a conscious level we recognise that decisions such as those about career paths, partners, or where we live, are potentially life-changing. We are likely to put more time and rational thought into making these types of decisions and consult more with people we trust.

It is some apparently small decisions made in haste, or because of peer pressure or mood, that may have consequences out of all proportion to the size of the decision. Ignoring a seatbelt, drinking too much, trying drugs, loading a credit card beyond our ability to repay, starting or escalating a war of words with a friend or partner, can all change our lives in an instant and create consequences that affect our future, permanently.

Pope Francis understands the importance of taking time when making decisions:

“I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time.”

What the Bible says...

As people of faith, we are not alone in our decision-making. One of the most reassuring sentences in the Bible is found in the Book of Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have in mind for you – it is the Lord who speaks – plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you” (Jeremiah 29:11). Equally reassuring words are found in St Paul’s Letter to the Romans “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him…” (Romans 8:28). We should not be afraid to make decisions if we have involved God in the process.

What the Church says...

Discernment is a centuries-old method of making God-inspired decisions which is as useful today as when it was first formulated by the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola. It helps us to separate our needs from our wants, and to take a deep and long view rather than being ruled by impulse. Pope Francis explains:

“Each day, in our heart, we face many choices…if we look within ourselves, we can see two very different questions arising. One asks “What do I feel like doing?” This question is often misleading, since it suggests that what really counts is thinking about ourselves and indulging our wishes and impulses. The question that the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts is a very different one. Not: “What do you feel like doing?” but: “What is best for you?” That is the choice we have to make daily: What do I feel like doing or what is best for me?

This interior discernment can result either in frivolous choices or in decisions which shape our lives – it depends on us. Let us look to Jesus and ask him for the courage to choose what is best for us, to enable us to follow him in the way of love. And in this way to discover joy. “To live, not just to get by.”

It is worth learning about discernment, learning “to live, and not just get by”.

I know how helpful it is from my own experience and from the many people who have found it to be life-giving.

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Identity Identified Bible Covers

Identity:Identified contains 24 inserts and highlighting of key passages within the New Testament that are designed to help teenagers navigate life’s challenges with ways to identify why God created each one of us in the unique way He did.

This book also has a number of QR codes that link to a series of special videos that have numerous people sharing their stories and how they cope with life.

This is the perfect tool to help the younger generation in your life to follow Jesus as they navigate the challenges of life and trust him as a true friend and companion.