It snowed here last night. It's the first measurable snowfall of the year for us, which is really unusual. My kids went to bed last night, hoping today would be a snow day. As I write this, their school district has yet to call off school. I'm a bit surprised by this. The roads are snow-covered and the weather forecasters are predicting more snow followed by sleet and rain. However, it's also one of the last weeks before the kids start taking their state assessments. And the kids were out of school on Thursday and Friday for conferences. It's a tough call whether to close school on days like today. The roads will probably get better in a hurry once the snow stops falling. There's really not that much snow -- maybe an inch. On the other hand, sleet and rain on top of slick snow could make even the residential roads a mess by pick-up time. No matter what they do, they will make some portion of their constituency unhappy. Working parents will be upset if schools are closed, and it clears up soon. Some parents will be upset about endangering their kids on slick roads. It's a tough decision for those in charge.
There are days when parenting is a lot like trying to decide whether to close schools on days when the roads are bad. Days when you know that no matter what decision you make, someone is going to be upset. We had a moment like that this weekend. My husband and I, after sitting down and looking at our budget and our calendar, decided the best thing for our family was for my youngest daughter not to play travel hockey in the fall. As adults we know that reducing the financial strain and the strain of constantly splitting up our family every weekend is the best choice for us right now. But we knew it would upset our daughter -- and it did.
Parenting choices are rarely easy. From the time a tiny baby joins the household, every decision seems to hold major import. I agonized over feeding choices when my girls were young. As they get older, we have to make decisions about the activities they participate in and the friends they keep. Then we have to begin deciding how much of the decision-making to let our kids have on their own. It's tough, and it can leave us feeling like we aren't smart enough or strong enough to make the tough decisions.
The great thing about knowing God, though, is that we don't have to be smart enough or strong enough ... because God is both of those things. We just need to tap into the source of wisdom and strength and let Him help us make the tough decisions. And we need to teach our kids how to do the same, so when they start making the tough decisions for themselves, they know where to turn. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." Can you imagine how great his wisdom and strength are if His weakness is greater than our strength and His foolishness is wiser than our wisdom?
Whenever we're faced with tough decisions, we need to model for our kids the best way to make good decisions. Talk with your kids about your decision-making process, so they know you're tapping into the source of wisdom and strength to make good decisions.
- Pray. Always start with prayer. God expects us to pray about everything, especially those things that are causing us worry or anxiety. He wants to take that anxiety and replace it with peace, even in the midst of making a tough decision.
- Search for biblical principles to apply to the situation. Do a topic search in an online Bible Study tool like Bible Gateway. See what the Bible has to say about your particular situation. You'd be surprised by how much is in there. If you can't find something on your specific problem, look for more general applications. For example, there's nothing in the Bible about how busy you should be, but there are lots of verses about taking care of your family and loving your spouse. Clearly these things are a priority over any other activity.
- Ask godly friends for their opinion. God uses our other Christ-followers to speak to us, but it's important that we've gone to God first before asking a friend for advice. God will use another Christ-follower to confirm what He's told us, but we need to seek Him out ourselves first.
- Make a decision and give it to God. I have a tendency to do these things, make the decision, then worry about the result. Worry is a sin. It's telling God He's not big enough to handle the problem. Make the decision, then let it rest with God. Ask Him to give you peace. Don't try to control everything. God's got it under control.
Leaning on God when making tough decisions is a habit. We have to do it over and over again before it becomes second nature. But if we start bringing our tough decisions to the source of wisdom and strength, we're going to do a much better job of making decisions than if we decide to go it alone.