The Disquietude of Indecision
We have all likely experienced the discomfort of being faced with an important but difficult decision, and agonized over the decision, not knowing what the ‘right’ answer or ‘right’ choice was. If you’ve ever come home at the end of a long and challenging day, only to hear your husband say, “What’s for dinner tonight?” you know the feeling! Because of this discomfort, we sometimes forfeit our prerogative to choose simply because we don’t want to have to make that decision, and our only decision is to simply live with whatever someone else chooses.
Sometimes the choices are made for us and without our input, and we are forced to live with a decision we may not be happy about, but we might not have been any happier if we had been put in the position of having to make the decision. Many people greatly dislike having to make important decisions, and so they often resign themselves to having others make those decisions for them, and making the best of what others decide for them. Additionally, there are literally hundreds of decisions that are made for us, on a daily basis, that we probably are not even aware of, but the fact we don’t have to make those decisions actually makes our lives easier and less stressful.
I probably don’t have to tell you there was a lot of stress — and there is still quite a bit existing — because of the recent Presidential elections, and all of it because a clear decision was not known for several days after the election was over. The indecision in this case was due to the time it takes to count the votes, and the delayed decision causes [and is causing] quite a bit of stress across the country. The stress will likely not dissipate once a decision is reached, either, because our nation is so divided right now.
As uncomfortable and as unhappy as some are going to be when a decision is finally reached, a decision will be made, and we should at least be prepared to accept whatever decision that is. Imagine what turmoil there would be if this country simply moved forward without ever reaching a decision on who won!
Decision-making is a sometimes-complicated matter, and I am not talking about Presidential elections. Many people agonize over every decision they have to make, whether it is the clothes they wear each day, the food they eat, or more important matters like which car to buy [if any], where to live, or who to date or eventually marry. Each decision that arises is a cause for stress, and even after the decision is made, they continue to agonize; now it is over whether or not it was the ‘right’ decision — many times when there is no ‘wrong’ answer. Their constant inability to make a decision, even on unimportant, insignificant matters, weighs on them constantly and they are mentally exhausted and stressed. In such cases, the disquietude of indecision never goes away unless and until they can come to a point where a definitive decision is made without regrets afterward.
Before we go further, let us note that the two greatest causes of indecision are (1) an abundance of options and (2) a desire to please others. Like the daily question of what’s for dinner, those two factors are most likely going to cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and they will affect our decision every time the question arises. Knowing these factors are most likely going to affect our decisions, or even our willingness to make a decision, will help us to understand why we respond as we do. Maybe it will help us to be better decision makers!
There is an indecisiveness that we should consider, though, that is of infinite importance; as you might guess, it relates to spiritual matters. The matter that must not be overlooked is our eternal destination, and on this we cannot waver or be indecisive. But many are! Many continuously put off making a decision on the very things that will make the difference between eternal life and eternal condemnation, with some thinking that delay will eliminate the stress of having to weigh the evidence, and relieves them of the responsibility of having to make such an important decision. Indecision does neither. For those who know what the choices are [and the inherent responsibilities and consequences that come with our decision], the mental stress will not disappear because of our continued indecision. The only way to obtain the elusive peace of mind on this eternally-important issue is to make a decision.
To come to a decision, we must first know all the facts. In this case, God has revealed to us all we need to know, within what we know as the Bible, and when Jesus sent the apostles out to teach this message we call the gospel, He expected the hearers would make a decision, saying, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). The one who hears the evidence of the claim of Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God and the world’s only Savior, must now decide if the evidence is sufficient to accept it as true. There is sufficient evidence, by what John wrote (cf. John 20:30, 31), so one cannot say there is not any evidence or that there is not enough evidence.
It is important that we understand that what God demands of everyone who seeks forgiveness of their sins and eternal salvation is faith — trust in Him and in His ways. That faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), and without that faith, one cannot be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). To have this faith means we have heard the evidence and the testimony, and we have seriously weighed it all and its credibility and we have come to a decision based on that evidence and testimony. There will inevitably be ones who put off this decision (cf. Acts 17:32; Acts 24:25), but that indecision will cost them eternally. Delay does not mean it will not affect us; indecision is itself our decision, and it is not for good. Remember well that Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30); if we decide not to decide, we have chosen to be on the side of those against Jesus.
Many more people will delay making a definite decision, trying to straddle the fence between worldliness and righteousness. They know what God says, but they are lured by the worldly pleasures, so they try to live a double life, so to speak, and they make themselves miserable. Others try to straddle the fence between what they know to be true and pleasing others (cf. John 12:42, 43). Such indecisiveness will only lead to misery and further disquietude!
Elijah chastised the Israelites for trying to straddle the fence between serving the true God and the false (1 Kings 18:21), but Jesus made it clear that such is simply not possible, when He said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Do not be indecisive on this! Choose your way of life, but don’t delay. Someone once told me that those who live in this way “know just enough religion to make themselves miserable,” and that is absolutely true! We will never have peace of mind until we choose to live for God fully.
Indecisiveness equals instability (Jas. 1:8), but peace of mind comes when we choose God. — Steven Harper