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Making Great Decisions Reflections: For a Life Without Limits – MySouSou
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I heard the lethargic sound of a sax played from the stage. It whimsically moved from note to note and provided the room a somber, yet titillating, atmosphere of sensual relaxation. I looked at the soon-to-be newlyweds; they were clearly nervous, especially the groom-to-be, as we began a conversation that I considered one of the most important that we would ever have together.
Making Great Decisions Workbook: For A Life Without Limits
As the waiter brought over a steaming bowl of clam chowder, I started my own piping hot conversation. Clearly, there were many more important issues here than white rice or brown or such ceremonial ones as style of garter belts and flavor of cake icing. This was the greatest step they would ever make, in my opinion, and it was a decision that is too often romanticized.
My focus was not on the wedding or the size of her train.
Grasping for a starting point, I muttered something to my daughter like, You have grown up over night. It was only yesterday that you were in pigtails and looking for barrettes. She laughed with some embarrassment as I shared a family story about her pouting and taking all of her clothes off when her mother and I were in an all-night prayer service. She was three years old and had had enough. It was a hilarious moment that we often laughed about. Her thumb was in her mouth and a look of disdain for the full-blazed service that went on and on and on.
I was trying to break the ice to some new, unexplored conversation; we had not talked to this extent before.
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Being a minister, I have seen far too many blissfully beautiful weddings that ended in horrendously heinous divorces. I know that more times than not, Stella may get her groove back only to find out that she has been kicked in the groin by domestic violence or the emotionally painful consequences of not thinking through the next move carefully and holistically! I did not want my daughter hurt.
I wanted her to understand the long-term consequences of her relationship decisions. While the colorful kaleidoscope of emotions turned within me as I envisioned my baby girl all in white walking down the aisle, I welcomed the opportunity to address both of them regarding this pivotal, life-altering, sacred decision. My wife and I had already reluctantly given our blessing on their engagement and impending nuptials, yet I knew that my real opportunity for penetrating their romantic buzz with the reality of married life now lay before me. Both my daughter and her groom were young: He was twenty-one and she was nineteen.
Ideally, we would have liked them to have been older. I believe that marriage is for fully grown people. The groom, of course, was new to me, but I knew that my daughter had always been a precocious child. Now as she stood before me, a young lady, I wanted her to enter into this decision, as the vows say, not unadvisedly but reverently in the fear of God. And maybe with a little fear of me!
Okay, I admit it, I was acting like a typical father of the bride, but what do you expect? This was my first child to marry, and I was as anxious as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I attempted to regain my composure as I continued. My daughter and her young man giggled and sputtered out something along the lines of my true love and the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I nodded and then launched into my thoughts on the outrageous implications of marriage. The face that you will watch age alongside your own.
This will be the face you run to when life seems cold and pains are unbearable. This is the face of your partner of choice. The one you chose like a warrior chooses a weapon or an artist her medium. He is, she is, your weapon of choice when you fight layoffs, mounting bills, pressure, and unimaginable challenge. And it may be the face you look to when you have to bury one or the other of you prematurely.
In my thirty-plus years of ministry I have seen couples face really difficult things, from parenting children with Down syndrome to rushing to the hospital to find that their teenagers had been crushed in a car accident. So my perspectives are not romanticized by the commercials and soap operas of today. Life is not always easy for people, you know. They looked ashen, facing perhaps for the first time the enormous ramifications of the decision before them and the certainty of unpredictable scenarios ahead.
Both her mother and I knew that life could be brutal and challenging and riddled with unimaginable circumstances. I was almost preaching by this time! They find one they like but know that if it breaks down or they simply grow tired of it, they can trade it in for a newer, shinier model in a few years. Neither of you wants that. You probably cannot even imagine that situation. Yet you must be as deliberate as possible, as logical, objective, and thoughtful in your decision to commit, cohabitate, and commingle your DNA. I did not wish to dissuade them, dampen their enthusiasm, or disguise the joys that married life can afford.
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I earnestly believe that every relationship decision must be made with an appropriate level of care and deliberation in regard to the impact this choice will have on your life. So much of the climate of the rest of your life comes down to this one decision. Do you promise to love her, cherish her? After completing these essential vows, I usually then ask them, Do you? Life is too short for regrets. That is why it is so important for you to know who you are, what is important to you, and how you want to exist and proceed in the world.
Regrets are meant to teach us what to do better next time. Considering what you could have done differently to prevent whatever situation you regret is a good way to keep from repeating the same mistakes again in the future. Learning to make decisions in the moment based on who you truly are, and taking actions based on love, kindness, and forgiveness, always with the highest spirit in mind, is the best way to avoid having regrets later.
Decisions are like falling dominoes in a line, each one toppling one irreversible consequence against another. Our screenwriters and novelists love to examine the power of one single choice and its effects on those caught in its gravity. In the soon-to-be-released Screen Gems film based on my book, Not Easily Broken , the character Dave and his wife, Clarice, never understood on their wedding day that life has a way of knocking you down.
But they soon learn that the wedding is easier than the life that comes after it!
And believe it or not, weddings are less expensive than many of the mistakes couples make after it. They begin to realize that every decision affects them both along with the quality of their marriage. They often drift apart on the raft of bills into the bleak sea of anger and disappointment. Of course, we cannot scrutinize, analyze, and fantasize about each and every decision we make, or we will become paralyzed by fear, afraid to get out of bed in the morning and choose between Corn Flakes and Cocoa Puffs.
Worrying whether to wear the blue dress or the brown skirt are not important decisions. Those are not the kinds of decisions I am talking about. The larger, more significant relationship decisions of life—who and when to date, court, and marry, shared lifestyle choices and friendships—demand that we bring everything we have to the table to ensure that we make the best choices and never look back.
Most of us have learned, some the hard way, the importance of relationships. But do we move into these decisions in a way that will insure positive results? This is what I want to explore with you in this book. Your future is as strong as the decisions that precede it. I have good news for you: We can make relationship decisions with a confidence, faith, and fortitude that allows us the freedom to enjoy a contented, fulfilled life.
My mother used to say that ignorance is expensive. She was absolutely right. It costs to be uninformed or even under-informed. Recently, I was given a rare and unique opportunity to purchase a highly respected marketing firm. It was and is a thriving business with an impressive list of highly financed companies. I was intrigued. It has an impeccable history, and I was elated to be given the option to proceed into what could have been a very lucrative deal for all concerned.
But I seldom allow my elation to override my innate, God-given sensitivity and propensity to caution. I felt that the terms were conceivable and the profit margins looked plausible. Still I spent much money and time engaging a professional firm to do the due diligence that I feel is a mandatory prerequisite before I do business on that level. After researching stacks of documents, tax returns, financials, employee backgrounds, and contracts between the entity and its clients, I decided that, although it was a good deal, it was not a good fit for where I am in life right now.
One of the board members, who I assume might have underestimated my proclivity to get the facts first, said, You are not just a preacher; you are an astute businessman. At this season in life I have to make every move count. I do not have the life span at fifty to recover from a massive setback economically, emotionally, or spiritually that could result from a bad decision. Even my own attorneys and accountants were surprised at the amount of money and time I invested in making this decision. Several said, You did all of that and still walked away? The money I spent investigating it might have seemed wasted to them, but not to me.
I know that like the issues I raised to my daughter, you cannot make great decisions if you do not take seriously the consequences of that decision and base your decision on thorough information!
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