Reflecting on Decisions….

Should I stay or should I go Ullenius
Decisions are part of everyday life, but not every decision is simple or straight forward. The toughest choices we all face in light of the Coronavirus involve when and if to venture from our homes. At this stage, we all understand we need to keep our distance, yet there are matters that seem to weigh more heavily as each day goes by. This photo by my friend Steve seems to capture the dilemma we all face. I grew up with streetlights like the one in this photo. There was one on the corner outside my bedroom window. I spent many a day at that window, home from school sick with everyone worried the common cold would escalate into bronchitis. I have asthma, so even a cold is far from common. This type of streetlight seems a bit bare bones to me, although the birds were always big fans. The birds ganged up on the pole, until there was no longer room for even one more to fit. Then they would all rustle their wings and at least one would take flight. As soon as that bird left, another bird would crowd into the makeshift flock. What was so great about this particular perch? Why did they all crowd in together? At first, I thought that it was a great place for the birds to spot insects, but it seemed the bird who was crowded out took off into the sky rather than toward the ground. Perhaps those lonely days I spent in my room as a young child were the beginning of these reflections. There is only so long you can read, and the only television was downstairs in the living room. So the view out that bedroom window became my television, for better or for worse. Now we all seem to be stuck inside and wanting to go out and play, or work, or to buy just a few more groceries. Perhaps there are more pressing matters, a sick and frail friend or family member you long to visit one last time. If decisions are already tough, then how difficult are they when the stakes are so high? In times like these, we must consider both our own interests and the common good, perhaps considerations in conflict with one another. The situation continues to evolve, so a decision we delay until tomorrow may no longer be an option. Like the refrain from this song by The Clash:

Darling, you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

We may leave, only to be stuck at that location for the foreseeable future. We risk a longer separation than we expect as restrictions tighten. So perhaps we need to simplify the whole decision process – are you willing to spend six to twelve weeks with the folks you are with at home? If you leave, are you willing to spend that long with your coworkers? Patients? Shoppers? Make time to consider what is truly important to your heart, not your head. Avoid overthinking the situation or getting ahead of yourself. Make decisions as needed, and once you make a decision, let it go. Enjoy the present and what it has to offer you. Cultivate beauty in your surroundings and be intentional in your actions and especially your words. Address concerns head on rather than belittling them or avoiding a tough conversation. Lean on God’s strength rather than your own, inviting the Holy Spirit into your midst to guide and guard you and those you hold dear, this day and always.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Lyrics from ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ by The Clash

Photo entitled ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by Steve Ullenius©2020, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved.

Reflecting on Risk….

The rain seems to be moving on, leaving behind heavy fog. This morning you could only see what was right in front of your face. So I was drawn to this photo of the Shenandoah River taken by Robert, a friend of a friend. The rocks and leaves jump out at you, in sharp focus, while the trees in the background are shrouded in mist and fog. I was particularly struck by the foliage growing on top of the rocks. These plants must be some tough stuff. I would imagine growing on a rock in the middle of a river is not easy, or particularly safe. Yet these plants seem to be thriving. Risk can be synonymous with peril, danger, jeopardy, or adventure, chance, challenge. When we assume risk, we take a chance on losing, but often a chance on gaining as well. We leave behind the familiar and assured to become vulnerable to the unknown. The most prudent risks involve the heart as well as the mind. We feel a need to step out, to give it a try, because we feel compelled to take a chance. My father was a good listener and wise counsel. I sorely miss him when facing big decisions. He asked questions, to understand where you were coming from and the choices you were facing. We would comb through what we did know, and talk through the possibilities. The questions varied according to the decision, but there was one question he always asked. Will you regret it if you don’t take the chance? I would picture myself as an old woman in a rocking chair, and ask if I would have regrets if I played it safe. When my heart and mind agreed, I would assume the risk, hoping to gain while being willing to lose. Take time today to consider taking a risk, becoming vulnerable to the unknown. Examine the possibilities with your heart, and mind, and soul. And remember what seem to be misty, far off possibilities will be in sharp focus when you take a chance. Photo by Robert H Clark © 2011 – Check out his photo blog at http://networkedblogs.com/olJt6

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