The Choices We Make

by Vinita Hampton Wright

Rather than repeat what Chris Lowney says in chapter 8 of Heroic Living about how to make good choices, I’m going to dwell on what gets in the way of wise decision making.

Not enough information.

Sometimes I can’t make a decision because I don’t know enough about the situation—or because my information is lopsided. For instance, as I consider working with a certain organization, I should be open to hearing what others say about their experiences with that organization. This means I listen to those who have had good experiences but also to those who have some criticisms to voice.

Not enough detachment to be objective.

The more emotional I am about the possible options, the more care I must take not to let those emotions run away with my decision making. For instance, I really want to move to a certain town because I grew up there or because for whatever reason I feel safe there. Give me options for other locations, and I will automatically look for reasons they aren’t good enough. As long as I hold on to the option I want, I can’t assess if that’s the option that truly is best.

Not enough confidence in my own ability to hear the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I am waiting for a “supernatural” sign from God, when all along the Holy Spirit is working within me—even within my emotions and desires—to give me that intuitive sense that A is the wrong thing to do and D is the right thing. Of course, in order to attend to this interior movement, I must learn to be still long enough to sense it. Which means that a wise decision-making process includes time for quiet and reflection.

Not enough good counsel.

God created us to flourish in community. Sometimes I don’t have the answer to a problem because I must find it in the presence of others. This balances out what I perceive from my own impulses and opinions. Another person can help me sort out what I’m feeling as well as look carefully at the information I have at hand. Sometimes the answer comes only after I have prayed with others. None of us—regardless of personality—is designed to make all decisions in a vacuum.

In an ideal decision-making process, I gather the information I need, apply some emotional distance if necessary, spend time quietly listening and sensing my deeper wisdom, and accept the help of good counselors (friends, family, or professionals) as I ponder the possibilities.

God wants us to make decisions wisely, but it’s not all about the outcome. Much of what we gain happens in the midst of the praying and discerning. Consider it quality time with Jesus!

 Vinita Hampton Wright

Vinita Hampton Wright

Vinita Hampton Wright is a Loyola Press editor and writer of many books, including Days of Deepening Friendship and Simple Acts of Moving Forward.

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