Out of the Pulpit: Making the best decision you can

By Rev. Martin L. Dunne III | Contributing Columnist

Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit, our world has been a messy one. To bring about as much beauty in-spite of this messiness requires good decision making.  

Like with most life lessons, I learned the hard way the reality that it is absolutely impossible to please everyone. So, who should we please from our decision-making? The Great Commandment summarizes it perfectly [Matthew 22:37-39]. First and foremost, please God.  Our very existence is for the sake of fulfilling the uniquely unrepeatable purpose. When we do what God created us for it becomes impossible to do anything better with our lives. 

Next, for those who are married, comes your spouse. You are one flesh, one person. This is the most direct application of the second part of the Great Commandment. Anybody else you happen to please beyond God and your “person” is a bonus.

All decisions, however good and pure, result in consequences. 

You have to be ready to stand by your decisions even if it seems “all hell breaks loose” from that decision.

Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God” [Luke 9:62]; but for the right decisions you’ll instantly realize that you have no need to look back. You’ll know that it was the best decision because you approached the decision-making process in the best way possible. 

You incorporated everything you could. You can move forward in conviction because, even if things don’t turn out exactly as you hoped, your conscience will be clear in knowing you approached it the best way you could.

Soon begins May, the month dedicated for almost two millennia to Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom I would argue gave an ideal demonstration of good decision-making. 

When the angel presented a decision to an obscure 15-year-old girl [people typically lived only a few decades in the ancient world so marriage by 15 was normal] in the obscure village of Nazareth where everyone knew everyone, Mary had much to process fast: She was engaged to marry Joseph but still living with her parents in a culture where pregnancy without marriage was punishable by death. 

At that moment she didn’t know whether her parents would believe her, whether Joseph would believe her, whether anyone would believe her. But she still said yes, likely based on the fact that she was just told she was favored by an all-powerful God.

But things didn’t get easier for Mary because of her decision. She had to flee to Egypt and leave behind everything and everyone she had ever known. 

She agonized when searching for her child over three days in Jerusalem. She suffered the worst fate a parent could by witnessing her innocent son suffer the most torturous and humiliating death known. She saw him placed in a heavily-guarded tomb as an apparent sign of absolute hopelessness. Through it all, Mary clung to that decision she had made decades before.

Like Mary, I’ve had to make many hard decisions with unimaginably excruciating consequences.  But when I knew they were the right decisions I was never tempted to reconsider, and already I’ve received unimaginable blessings. 

I pray that you all persevere in the hard decisions you have to make day-in and year-out. But it is because of the mess of our world that the best decision is rarely the easiest or most pain-free.  More often than not the polar opposite is true, but the right decisions will be worth it in both the short term and the long term – many times over.

Rev. Martin L. Dunne III is a Pompano Beach native and author of several children’s books along with the self-help book “What Could a Priest Know About Marriage?” He is an ordained minister for Holy Redeemer in Palm City. Prior to seminary, he spent a decade working in the “real world” and was active in several business and volunteer endeavors. Visit fathermartinbooks.com for more information on Rev. Martin and his books.

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