Taking the Mystery Out of Making a BIG Decision in 7 Un-Easy Steps

April 18, 2016

Life’s one big, beautiful, messy mystery. And that’s on a good day. On tougher days, like say when there’s a big decision to make, the mystery isn’t just what to do, but how to reach that crucial decision.

Our BIG decision was whether to uproot our family from our home of 15 years to move to a new life on the coast. This was a tough one!

#1 PRAY. Even if you've never done it. Just pray anyway. Don't stop. If you put out there that you need help, you'll get it. We did, though it took time.

#2 TAKE LONG WALKS. Walking reduces stress and clears the mind. Besides, it’s just nice. My husband and I are habitual walkers and talkers, which brings me to the next key…

#3 TALK IT OUT. Don't try to handle any BIG decision alone. If you can combine the walking with the talking, even better!

#4 TAKE STOCK. Examine the situation thoroughly - what is and what could be. We had LOADS to consider. We had to ask…

How could we give up all this GOOD?

Our BIG decision was a job offer 5 hours from our current home - the place where we’d raised our kids (now 18 and 11) and had nestled into a good church (where I worked) and community. Here we lived close to family on both sides, and made friends and played sports. Here was good. Very good.

How do you know when it’s time for a change?

BIG changes tapped at our shoulders already. With Ethan headed to college and Abby about to start middle school, our parenting paradigm was shifting. As a family, we were in a Good Place. The TIMING was PERFECT.

Still, we had to be pushed.

Joe’s push pressed in slowly as a crippling work environment. Daily disappointment hunkered down on Joe’s shoulders. So, he started looking for new opportunities.

Meanwhile, I’d been pushed, too. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but, that life has suffered many detours. I thought what all women think -

I can do it all!

It’s all about determination and scheduling, right? I can do this.

Um, no I can’t.

Balance can’t be forced. Though I came up with a good system, even self-published two novels, my writing career moved like a slow trickle rather than a gushing river, with no signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, Joe extended his job search to favorite vacation spots. Our favorite of all time = Carolina Beach, NC. Closest metropolitan area = Wilmington. Wilmington hadn’t offered much in the way of tech jobs before, but then a promising tech company reached out to him.

With Joe’s experience and qualifications, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the offer or how quickly it came. It was worth considering.

Were we really considering this?

Our let’s just see what happens became could this really be happening? We prayed our butts off (see #1). Your will be done, Lord, we kept saying. We asked Him to give us a clear answer.


We straddled the decision-making fence like we were riding electric bulls. The decision was just too BIG for us, so we waited.

#5 TAKE YOUR TIME. Most BIG decisions aren't urgent. You don't want to rush into anything. So, don't answer right away. Consider all the variables.

We tried to think of everything.

Though it was never about money, money could’ve been a sufficient nudge.

“Ask for more,” I advised. “What do you have to lose?”

So, he did. A few days later, the human resources lady confirmed a $4,000.00 signing bonus. However generous, that wouldn’t pay for moving. She confirmed that there was nothing more they could do salary-wise.

For days we deliberated. As soon as we swayed one way, something moved us the other.

We walked on Sunday convinced we should say YES.

We walked on Monday even more convinced we should say NO.

The fancy dress of beach living would expire at midnight. I said, “Ask for a few more days.”

Joe left a message for the human resources lady, but didn’t hear back right away. It didn’t matter. We let go of our beach life dreams, for now.

I explained, “Sometimes, I feel like God’s up there shaking his head and saying duh. Other times, I’m like how can we do this if we’re not sure that’s what He wants?”

“If we can’t be sure what God wants, then it comes down to money,” Joe agreed. “Financially, it’d be crazy.”

#6 LET IT GO. If the answer hasn't become obvious by now, then err on the side of caution.

We reached the driveway with a firm decision.

Joe sat down and checked his phone. He’d missed a call from the human resources lady, though we couldn’t explain how. Neither of us heard it ring. He didn’t even feel it vibrate. Weird.

Joe said, “She’s probably calling to let us know we could have more time. I’m just going to tell her no.”

Joe left her another message for her to call back.

Joe went on, “You know, if they’d only come up in the offer, just met me halfway with another $5,000.00, then I’d know that God wanted us there and that we should accept.”

The phone rang.

The human resources lady rattled off information before Joe could tell her no. Yes, he could have another day. She spoke of transitioning, that they’d let him telecommute while we sold the house, and so on.

“Oh, good news. It’s the craziest thing,” she continued, “We found you another $5,000.00.”

Joe and I looked at each other, jaws dropped.

#7 GO WITH IT. When you get the answer you know is right, then thank God and accept it. Mystery solved.

Now, the real freaking out could begin!

"For all the promises of God find their YES in him."

2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV