I was frantically scribbling away on the classic pro/con list, desperate and frustrated as each column found a way to even out the other side when surrender finally took over. God, help me make the right choice! How am I ever going to know which is the right choice?!
I was lost. This wasn’t just a what’s for supper kind of decision—it felt massive. Life altering. The big show. And with each brainstorm of what life would look like after choosing one side or the other, I daydreamed awful repercussions from making the wrong choice. It was paralyzing.
This decision had a deadline, which loomed over me like a weighted scarf that tightened around my neck a little more each day. I’d bump into colleagues and friends and acquaintances while out and the questions were all the same. What are you going to do next year? How have you enjoyed this year off from work? Are you going back? Where would you send your kids for daycare? Are you going to stay at home? Isn’t your leave only for a year? When do you need to tell the district your decision?
With each question, the scarf felt heavier and tighter.
“Too soon,” is all I could muster, “I need to let them know too soon.”
They could’ve been asking me about any big life decision, but this year it’s been all about my extended leave away from teaching to stay home with my two young sons. The plan was always to go back to work after this school year. It’s what my husband and I agreed to and what I had arranged with my dream school district. But I felt torn. Worse, I was terrified about making the wrong choice.
What if I go back to work and agonize every moment away from the boys? What if I stay home and we can’t afford our mortgage? What if I’m less effective as a teacher now that my heart is poured into so many other people? What if I resent staying home? Ping, pong—back and forth the ball bounced in my mind. I loved my job, I loved staying home, I couldn’t make the right decision.
And then, just like He so often does, God lent me the soothing affirmation I so desperately needed.
The last MOPs meeting before my decision was due, the topic was about making choices. The panel discussed all the ways they agonized over decisions that seemed so drastic at the time. And I’ll always be thankful for hearing this, “Sometimes there is no right choice or wrong choice. There are just choices. And God’s gonna use whatever choice you make for His purpose.”
One more time, for anyone who needs to hear this twice, “Sometimes there is no right or wrong choice.”
How quickly that declaration unwrapped my weighted scarf! All this time I was anxious about screwing up my entire family with either choice when it hadn’t occurred to me that God’s got this. Even when I very much do not have this, God does. He’s going to use me whether I’m home with my boys or out in the schools. Whether I’m loving on my kids during the day or loving my students, it’s going to be OK.
And since I brought up the topic of staying home versus working, know that no one can really understand the nuances of your situation like you do.
There is no universal answer to that all-too-common dilemma, and I am NOT about to be doling out advice in that arena. I won’t share what we decided to do because really that isn’t the point I’m trying to make. My situation wasn’t a good versus bad choice, and the result isn’t pertinent to the process.
So friend, please know this: Life is a series of making endless choices, but not everything is black and white. Sometimes your choices (regardless of how monumental they feel) aren’t a matter of right versus wrong, but simply this or that. Write out your pro/con list, discuss options with your loved ones, and by all means pray hard, but do not let that scarf weigh you down.