Why the archery reference? Maybe it is because it is just such an apt analogy. More likely it is because I happened to win the amateur archery contest over spring break. Granted, none of the other contestants had ever shot a bow and arrow more than a couple of times, so my Boy Scout archery merit badge paid off in spades and I walked away from the event with the grand prize—a $2 hat with the name of our hotel on it.
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about the many types of decisions we all face. The choices I am faced with are unique and often difficult for me. I’m sure you feel the same way about yours. Because these decisions can be so hard, I find myself looking for every useful tool I can find. I have a whole “quiver” of them. I look things up on the internet and read books. I seek advice from friends and family. I ask for help from whoever I feel comfortable. I make extensive spreadsheets detailing the pros and cons of each decision (for which my wife mocks me mercilessly). But one thing that I have learned is that my best “arrow” in helping me hit the “target” is to seek advice directly from God.
I have found that whatever decision I am facing, if I seek for help from the Lord in prayer He ALWAYS ends up helping me in knowing what to do. Sometimes I have the struck-by-lightning kind of feeling and instantly know how to solve my problem after asking God for help. More often, it is a small, simple, gradual, and wonderful process of peaceful feelings and impressions.
I do have to say, that every once in a while I end up feeling like I’m not getting much in the way of guidance. What I’ve come to realize is that those are usually the times that I’m asking God just tell me what to do, and to basically make the decision for me. However, this approach normally doesn’t go over so well.
It’s a lot like the kids I used to tutor at the high school. They would want me to give them the answers for their math or science homework, but instead I would help them walk step by step through the problems. If they started to go off course I’d help guide them back and if they were on the right track I’d just nod my head and they’d keep plugging along. This is how it usually works for me. I feel small feelings guiding me in the direction I need to go, and after I follow through I get more guiding me further.
In the end, the students were better off because I didn’t just give them the answer right away, but made them work for it. They valued the answers more because they did the work, and they became more capable of dealing with similar things in the future. In a similar manner, we’re better off for working through our decisions step by step than if God would have just dropped the solution in our laps.
Developing this kind of relationship with God really shapes my decision making process and hence every aspect of my life. It’s a large part of my everyday experience as a Mormon and I hope it can be helpful to you. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.