Thinking It Through

Old_Red_CarThe day we live in is often over run by emotional decision-making, impulsive decisions, lack of prayer, not getting wise counsel and not thinking things all the way through. I have seen this deadly, over-powering combination have a devastating impact on the lives of many people, and the finances of numerous families. In the moment of what seems to be a crisis, snap decisions get made that look like a necessary answer to the problem at hand. Unfortunately, without fully thinking through things, the immediate solution that gets embraced usually has a long-term problem attached to it that will complicate life, frustrate everyone and cause a multitude of problems that tie us up in ways we never anticipated. All this mess happens because emotions rule us and we will not slow down long enough to think things through.

Years ago I had a car that was running pretty good. It was not the most beautiful thing on the road, but it was dependable and got me where I needed to go. I bought it for cash so the repairs it needed were paid for in full as they came up. That car got me to work and it let me go where I wanted to go with my free time. Then something happened that change everything. One of my friends purchased a newer vehicle and he was “only paying $120 a month”. Every time I saw him in that car something in me got fired up. Eventually, my car was in need of another minor repair and with that, what had always been a good car, was now viewed as a piece of junk. Thus, on an emotional impulse, without any counsel and without thinking it all the way through, I used my good car as a down payment for a “nice car”. Best of all it was only going to cost me $100 a month. What a deal!!!

Oh what joy filled my soul. I was such a happy camper as I drove that car off the lot and down the highway. It really was a nicer car and I just knew I had made the right decision. Of course this vehicle needed minor repairs, just like my other car, but the cash I always had on hand for repairs now went to pay the car loan. So, I was forced to work extra hours to keep it running, and lost the free time I always had on weekends. The newer car needed to use higher octane gas and that cost me more to drive it. My car insurance went up, the inspection and registration cost more, and the repair bills on this newer vehicle were bigger as well. I realized very quickly that I did not own my car, but it owned me. It took my free time, my finances, my freedom, my weekends and the convenience I always had of going when I wanted to go with extra money in my pocket. I was a prisoner of one emotional decision because I had not waited, calmed down and thought it through. Worst of all, my old car was gone and I could not get it back.

How about you? Has a decision you made changed your life in ways you could not have imagined? Has an action, not thought all the way through, had a negative impact on your life, or the lives of those you love? Did you solve one issue, only to discover that everyone was left struggling with things that were never an issue in the past? Is there less freedom, more expense, the same income, less time, and more frequent inconvenience for you and those around you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the bad news is that you have fallen into  the same emotional decision trap I did. The good news is you don’t have to live there forever. You will have to live with the negative, even painful consequences for now, but one good decision at a time will allow you to climb out of that emotional black hole.

It took me quite a while to save up enough money to get rid of that money sucking car. It took discipline, self-restraint, emotional control, wise counsel and determination to keep my eyes on the goal. That mistake cost me a lot, and it changed my life for the worse. However, I learned from the mess I put my self and my family through, and so can you. I did not look to others to bail me out, and neither should you. I did not get offended when people did not jump at the chance help me every time the mess I made over ran me. Don’t you go there either. Most of all, I did not become negative or critical about the life I had chosen for myself. I embraced the stupid thing I did and never did it again!

Did you catch that?  I owned it, prayed and rode out the storm. I grew up and stopped whining. I took full responsibility for my stupid, poorly thought out decision and the mess it caused me and others. I made things right with those I had selfishly impacted. I slowed down and began to think about what might happen in any given situation. I began to make better decisions in moments of crisis, and one step after another, things slowly got better. It was not an instant success story, but more of a slow, painful climb out of a slippery hole I had dug for myself.

Perhaps this is the year you will begin to think things through as well. If you have made emotionally based, impulsive decisions, no doubt your life is not what you want it to be, and that can really stink. Fortunately, you and those you love, don’t have to stay in that pit of despair forever. If you refuse to change, then your life is what you have made it. Stop complaining and just live with it. However, if you have decided not to be stuck in past mistakes, you can begin today to build a better life, one decision at a time.

Think things through. Don’t let emotions push the decision button in your life. Talk to those who have the kind of life you want, and get your counsel from them. Avoid the “experts” who are ready to show you the way but clearly have not found it for themselves. Slow down and let the dust settle before you make a move. Most of all take it to prayer, and if you are married, be sure your husband or wife is in full agreement. Never forget that your spouse is God’s safety net in every decision to be made! Do these things and next year at this time, life for you could be so much better. Now get out of that pit of emotional decisions, and begin to enjoy 2018 as your best year ever!

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