Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thoughts on Thinking

The question posed here bothers me on multiple levels, but the most bothersome part is that the person asking the question is representative of so many within the Christian community who seem incapable of making an independent decision. For whatever reason, it is common, even encouraged, within Christian circles to delay making any decisions without first confirming through various sources that what you want to do is what God wants you to do.

"Confirmation" is a buzz word in the Christian circles I was a part of. Having "confirmation" on a decision meands that God has apparently given the green light to go forward as planned. In fact, going forward with a big decision without having said confirmation is essentially inviting trouble into one's life. If the thing you have chosen to do is done without that confirmation, and it blows up in your face, it is believed that you should not have attempted it in the first place, and the blowing up part is God's way of punishing you for going forward without His "thumbs up".

Over the years, I have seen people reach far in order to grasp the coveted confirmation. I have done it myself, many times, before reaching the realization that I could find confirmation anywhere if I wanted something badly enough. Anyway, over the years I have seen people find confirmation in something as innocuous as the position of a leaf on the ground, or something more substantial, such as an alleged vision.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it renders us useless in terms of making decisions on our own. In certain circles, such as those I grew up with, it is collectively believed that any decision we might make on our own is going to end disasterously, because our hearts and minds are naturally inclined toward evil. We utterly disregard the idea of being made in the image of God. We are made in His image, therefore having the capability of making good choices for ourselves, without the multitude of confirmations we believe we need.

I believe we have been gifted with the ability to make sound judgments based on the evidence we have before us that speaks directly to the decision we are making. Certainly, it is prudent to seek counsel from trusted friends and leaders, but ultimately we have to be able to trust ourselves to make good choices in the situations we face. To believe we are incapable of doing that only leads to a place of constant self-doubt, leaving us vulnerable to people and circumstances that may demand a quick decision.

In my own life, I grew up with tremendous self-doubt. Due in part to the impressions made upon me in church, I believed there was nothing good in me and I could not possibly make good choices in my life without having a long list of "confirmations" to support whatever choice I am inclined to make. Such thinking has lead me down many harmful roads.

Most recently, this agonizing self-doubt lead me into a very dangerous relationship with a man, and I ultimately married him. Everything in me was telling me to get away from him, yet the timing of our relationship made it appear as though this man was a gift from heaven, an answer to prayer. Further "confirmations" of this lead me to believe that my instincts were wrong, and I needed to graciously embrace what God had given me. I turned a blind eye to the red flags, hushed the words of caution that kept playing in my mind, and considered that our relationship had plenty of evidence of being from God. We both had all the confirmations we needed in order to justify our relationship as a God ordained blessing.

We got married, and I realized I had married a monster. I realized that the inclinations I had to run away from him were God-given instincts, and I should have trusted them. Shortly after getting married, I got pregnant. Upon learning of my pregnancy, and enduring one final and very frightening display of my husband's wrath, I left my marriage and began preparations for single motherhood.

I am quite sure that this was not in God's perfect plan for me, despite any confirmations I thought I had. By the grace of God, and my new found ability to trust the instincts He has given me, my son and I have a very happy life. Everything about how our life came to be this way is utterly contrary to the beliefs I grew up with. I had no "confirmations" that leaving my husbnad and filing for divorce was the right thing to do. I had no confirmations that putting measures in place to protect my son from his father was the right thing to do. I had no miraculous shows of foliage on the ground to tell me that planning a life for my son, sans father, was the best thing for us.

Yet, I trusted my gut instincts and went forward with my plans, and everything has turned out wonderfully. Furthermore, I also discovered that my husband had been seeking relationships with other women before I even filed for divorce, despite his claims of remorse about our situation. Upon discovering this, I knew in that moment that every decision I made was right, however contrary it may have been to standard operating procedure.

With regard to the question in the video, it disturbs that the man would believe that his skills are something he may have to put on the back burner because they may not be honoring to the Lord. I believe that there are times when all the confirmation you need to tell you that something is from God, is that the thing is right in front of your face. I honestly believe that God gave us intuition for a reason, and there is something offensive about the belief that there is something intrinsically evil about trusting our God-given awareness.

As long as we're not inhaling demons, I think we'll be alright in trusting ourselves a bit more.

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