One of the hardest decisions you will ever face in life is choosing whether to try harder or walk away.
Have you ever realized there is only one choice that we make in every moment of Life? The choice to try harder or walk away. From loving ourselves, loving another person, pursuing a passion, succeeding at work, or simply being present, we choose to continue thinking, doing, eating, saying, and being what we are or else we break up with it. There is only one way to do everything, and that is completely or not at all.
The choice to stay or leave determines whether we free ourselves or we suffer. The fact is, though, that we often wonder how we make the “right” decision?
This post is written in reference to Try Harder or Walk Away: The Decision written by Rebecca Lammersen. I chose to paraphrase and add my inputs, but I highly recommend reading Rebecca’s entire article as well. Rebecca makes the point that we have to learn how to discern between the doubt of the mind and the surety of the spirit in order to access what the “right” decision truly is.
The issue is that to discern between these differences means quieting the volume of the mind. “The mind is loud and the spirit is quiet,” muses Rebecca. I could not agree with her more. Too often it becomes too easy to listen to the loud voice in our minds shouting. You know, the voice screaming, “You aren’t good enough! There is no good in you! You don’t deserve to be happy!” It takes time, patience, and practice to hear that quiet voice in the background, and discipline to listen to her. Once we listen, there are a range of negative emotions that could occur: sadness, longing, unease. But there are also the positives: pride, love, happiness. So listening to the quiet voice not only takes understanding, but also courage. Lots and lots of courage.
This courage is conceived through faith. We can only have courage to listen to the quiet voice because our faith whispers that peace exists, even if peace is not visible yet.
Peace carries freedom as a gift. Once we entrust in our choice and endure the feelings and conditions that come with the strength of our spirit, then we receive freedom.
Like Rebecca, right now I am struggling too. I’m not sure if it is my mind or my spirit that I hear behind the door. And the reality of turning the knob to see who is behind the door is frightening. Aside from the fear there also lies uncertainty, the Unknown.
“Life is one struggle after the next, a battery of choices every day.”
I could not have said this better myself. Do I stay or do I leave? It buckles down to the knowledge that no matter what we choose, we are the ones in charge of making the choice. We are the ones in charge of producing our own happiness… or our own suffering.
And in the same way, we can also choose to walk away from our decision when we wish. We can back track, we can annul, we can recount our steps. Sometimes we find walls when we turn around, walls that were not there when we first walked down this path. At these moments we must figure out how to either climb the wall, choose a path to its side, or return to the route we just came. Every decision has a number of more decisions behind it. Taking charge of these choices is the key to facing struggles.
Struggle is the wrinkle of Life. It’s inescapable. However, we can also choose to honor struggle for all that it is worth. And it is so worth it! Peace is the acceptance of struggle. As we said before, peace results in freedom.
The problem with struggle, though, is finding the balance in not creating more once peace has been created. So then, how do we not make more struggle? We listen. This is the key to the door. Listening. We must listen to that quiet voice and tune out the loud one.
This is when we finally realize the door is the object making the noise. There is no fear behind the door, rather the door itself is the frightening part. Yet once it is opened and placed out of the way, the quietness can step forward to embrace us.
When I consider these voices, I think of my faith.
The loud noise, the one shouting hurtful, demeaning, selfish monstrosities at us can only be, in my mind, “bad” things: Sin. Satan. The World. In no way would the harmful thoughts in your mind be from God. Thus, they have no substance. They are meant to deter you from your ultimate goals of true happiness, self acceptance, and all other Good Things that are encompassed in the idea of “freedom.”
It is my belief that God works for the good of all those who believe in Him. Therefore that quiet voice, the one that has embraced you once you learn to listen to it, THAT voice is God. It is His work in you and the sign you need to know what direction to lead your life.
There are two Bible passages that I have been considering lately and I feel they are strong reminders that provide evidence to this belief:
Romans 8:32 – Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?
Matthew 6:33 – But above all, pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
With these passages in mind, how then can I continue to believe that the storming voice in my mind is the voice of the God who promises me every happiness and blessing in this Life and the next? No. No, I cannot even begin to believe such lies. And so, I with this knowledge, I can move forward into accepting that what the loud voice is saying is absolute ridiculousness and preparing myself to listen to the quiet.
Sometimes the loud voice can harm us though. Sometimes we listen to it for so long, clinging to its hard surface that we receive splinters, cuts, and bruises.
Thankfully, I am the type of person who has the ability to nurture the wounds with which the loud voice harms me. I can take the gifts that time and patience give me and heal my broken heart or crushed self-esteem or injured image. And each time I heal, I become a little bit stronger and healthier as well.
How do I know that I become stronger each time? Because I have opened that door multiple times and been embraced by the quiet voice. I challenge myself to continuously find the key to unlock and open that wailing door. Experience and practice. Those are my liberators. I choose to learn from my experiences of struggle and focus on listening to the quiet voice more than the loud. With my determination, I shorten my search time and find a longer stretch of peace and freedom.
It just so happens that I’m struggling now though. I’m not free. I’m still deciding. I know I can choose to make an easy decision or I can make the choice that will challenge me. The choice that will help me grow.
My problem is I’m not quite sure which choice is which… I haven’t found my key yet. The loud voice blocks me at the moment, a voice shouting lies of “You’ll never be good enough.” and “You try too hard.”
But as I continue to hunt for the key, I know this: the choice to follow the voice of my spirit takes a lot of effort, determination, and tenacity. Sometimes it is too simple to take the easy way out, to become a coward and huddle in front of the door rather than look for a way to push through.
Honoring our spirit takes time, patience, trust, and faith.
So I continue to pray for the World and it’s sinful screams to stop battering me while I search for the key to my friend and companion, the quietness.
If there’s anything I can be sure of, it’s that I won’t stop looking for the right choice, I won’t stop listening for the correct voice.
I’ll be free soon.