My finger hovered over the “send” button. I’d written the email, I’d attached my book proposal, but I hesitated. I’d worked so long and hard on the document and had such high hopes that my proposal would be well received. I’d prayed throughout the process of writing the proposal that God would help me find the words in order to share God’s love with others. The anxiety and nerves caught up with me in that second, and I felt somewhat overwhelmed. I took a breath, said an additional prayer, and hit the button. Later, I told my daughter Riley that I’d shed a few tears before I found the gumption to send the email. She said, “sometimes, there can be a lot of emotion in hitting send.” I thought her statement was spot on. That moment before we make a decision to act can be daunting and quite simply terrifying.
So many factors go into making decisions. We weigh the pros and cons. We think through the potential outcomes. We worry about what we might lose if we act. We wish for what we might gain. But our inability to control what happens is difficult for some of us. Sometimes, the risks we perceive can paralyze us and keep us from making a decision at all. When we don’t have all of the information our analysis feels incomplete. But in so many circumstances, we simply can’t have all of the data before we choose. In particular, we cannot know for certain how others will act or react to our decisions. The unknown looms large and that can be maddening for those of us who want to know all the facts, all the time.
For my book proposal, I had a deadline that provided the impetus I needed to finally push the send button. So often though, we don’t have a timeline, so we wait, not wanting to pull the trigger in case we make the wrong choice. Sometimes these are big life decisions, like what job to take or where to go to school. But often our choices seem small but still so very important, like determining the right time to say what’s on our hearts or minds.
At the root of this decision-making dilemma is fear. Fear of choosing wrong and feeling like a failure or fear of suffering emotional pain and possible rejection. In the Old Testament, when David was captured by his enemy, he said, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4. I marvel that in his dire situation, David could write about trusting God when he was afraid. I admit that my trust in God is weak and my fears about making decisions pale in comparison to David’s plight. But I also wonder if David wrote about his fear and his choice to trust God during those uncertain times to remind himself. Maybe he repeated those words over and over like a mantra: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you, God.
In those times when we encounter a decision, we can scrutinize our options and then pray in earnest for God’s guidance, inviting God to help us in our dilemma. Ultimately, we face that moment right before finally making the actual decision. As we hit the send button, literally or figuratively, when the anxiety and fear are at their peak, we can repeat David’s words in order to find courage to take that step. When we are afraid, let us put our trust in God and rest in the hope and comfort that God will be with us always.