What do I want to eat? What television station do I want to watch? What am I going to wear today? Do I wear the high heels or the flats? Do I want to curl my hair or wear it straight? Do I want a smoothie or some eggs for breakfast? Should I wear long or short sleeves today? The questions keep coming right after one another and decisions have to be made. According to multiple sources the average adult is faced with up to 35,000 remotely conscious decisions per day.
My husband’s birthday is coming up and a million options have gone through my head as to what I should do to help him to celebrate. I had to stop and think about what I did last year, which I could barely remember and then I had to look at our schedules. My mind had to flash back to remember if he had mentioned something to me earlier in the year that he wanted to do. I had to consider what day in the week his birthday would fall on and what I had budgeted to spend. Should I spend more on eating out or should I try to find him the perfect present? Should I ask him what he wants to do or should I surprise him? The list goes on and on about the many ways I could help him to celebrate his birthday.
Think about your electronic collection for a moment. Just look at your smart phone and think of the variety of apps that you can choose. How many channels do you have on your cable television? We Google or search for specific items all the time and can spend an enormous amount of time reading reviews and counting stars to before making a purchase. How many songs you have on your phone or ipod or do you have satellite radio with endless options?
Researchers at Cornell University (Wansink and Sobal, 2007) say we make 226.7 decisions a day just about food. In the course of thinking about what I want to eat for dinner, I have to go through a process. I first have to think about what I have already eaten in the last few days and then I have to think about how many calories I want to eat. Then I ask myself how hungry I am and do I want to cook or what is available already in the kitchen. How much time do I have and does my choice require a trip to the store? Would I just rather go out to eat? Lord help!
There are different levels of decisions we have to make. Some don’t require much energy to make a choice, but then there are other life decisions that require much deeper thinking and processing. For instance, I remember helping my children make decisions about where they would attend college. The decision could not be made overnight. There were many activities that had to occur to get them to make their final choice. The process included deciding what they wanted to major in, whether they want to be close to home or how far away, the tuition costs, and on and on. This process almost stretched a whole year because applications had to be completed and then final decisions had to be made.
The impact of some decisions we make are greater than others. Some choices won’t matter two weeks from now, but some choices change our lives forever. I read a book once entitled 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch. In her book she explains how decisions should be made based on the impact they will have in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. By using her process the goal is not to make hasty decisions about important matters that could impact us down the road.
In my reading I also encountered a phenomenon called “decision fatigue”. According to psychologists, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decision made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. The New York Times published an article in August of 2011 entitled: Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? According to the article, the more choices you make in a day, the harder each decision is for your brain to process, therefore your brain starts looking for shortcuts and may act impulsively or recklessly.
Decision fatigue can lead one to make impulsive choices, which is why stores put the candy bars close to the register. After making decisions about what to purchase in a store, you have less mental energy when you are offered the candy bars and will end up purchasing not just one but two, since they are two for two dollars. Sometimes the opposite happens and we can’t make a decision at all. This too results when the brain is just too overwhelmed with decision makings. No wonder after a long day at work, when my husband asks me what I want for dinner or asks me a question before bedtime, I make a decision.
So what can we do about decision fatigue or our inability to sometimes make decisions? The Bible has several remedies to help us in our decision making if we will only heed to what the word says. For the little everyday decisions like what we are going to eat or wear, Matthew 6:25 (NIV) has the answer. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
For tougher decisions, Philippians 4:6-7 contains the answer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Lastly, Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (ESV)
The choice is yours, can you make a decision?
he world is full of damaged goods. But just because an item is damaged, does it mean that it has no longer has value? The term “damaged goods” has been used to describe people, places and things. The Urban Dictionary gives the following definitions: 1) Item/s that were expected to be in good (if not brand new) condition, but were discovered eventually that they weren't. 2) Someone who was once healthy and/or normal but isn't any more due to unfortunate, traumatic events in his/her life (i.e. physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse).
If you look in Dictionary.com “damaged goods is defined as 1) a person considered to be less than perfect psychologically, as a result of a traumatic experience 2) a person, especially a public figure, whose reputation has been damaged. Have you ever received damaged goods due to poor packaging, bad handing or rough transportation?
What becomes of the damaged? In the retail world one of several solutions are offered. When an item is returned to a store, the purchaser either is given a replacement or is given a refund provided they have proof of purchase. If the store cannot put the item back on the shelf as new they may either file an insurance claim or sell the item at a discounted rate to recover their costs.
On many occasions when I visit my favorite Walgreens, I stop by the back corner of the store which contains the items that have been greatly discounted. I can almost always find something I am looking for such as hair products, cosmetics, technical gadgets other miscellaneous items. If you ask an employee, they will tell you that those are the items that were overstocked, on the shelves too long, returned or close to their expiration date that had to be discounted. In the grocery store I occasionally visit, there is always a basket at the front and the back of the store full of items. Some stores will label the basket as last chance or “damaged goods.”
Damaged does not always mean useless. The concept of outlet malls originated as a way to dispose of excess or damaged goods. Bargain shoppers regularly go on treasure hunts at discount stores looking for great deals and one of a kind item. Have you ever purchased something from a discount store or a scratch or dent store? Have you ever purchased something that had been discounted because someone else had returned it to the store and now it is labeled as an “open box” item?
There are stores that specifically sell items that have been damaged in some type of way.
Typically the damage is minimal, but cannot be sold at full price. There are even times when we find something that we must have but there is slight damage to it. We will not hesitate to ask the sales clerk or the manager if they will take something off of the price to account for the impairment. When the buyer purchases the damaged item, they have full disclosure of the blemish and want it anyway.
Living in this world we often experience the trials and tribulations of life that often wound us and leave us impaired physically, spiritually and emotionally. Have you been damaged? What is the source of your injury? Was it caused by physical or mental illness, broken relationships, sexual history, divorce, depression, financial issues, or sin? Do you have physical and emotional scars that leave you feeling less than whole? Perhaps life has not turned out the way you wanted it to. Have you ever felt like a second class citizen or felt like “damaged goods” because of your life experiences?
Bear in mind that damage does not have to mean broken and not capable of being repaired. Just like damaged cans may contain items that are still good, our damaged lives can be restored. God specializes in restoring hope, peace and confidence. The Bible verse found in Isaiah 61:2-3 (CEV) promises us that the Lord sends comfort to those who mourn and will give flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. Psalm 34:18 CEV reads, “The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope.
If you have ever felt damaged beyond repair, there is hope. God has a record of taking damaged lives and transforming them to be useful for Him. Consider the woman at the well who felt hopeless and insecure because of her marital history. Reflect upon individuals in the Bible such as Moses, Abraham and David who could have been considered damaged goods after they failed God miserably. Each one of them was forgiven and are remembered for their accomplishments not their failures. We too have the promise found in Jeremiah 30:17 “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.”
Best Friends Forever (BFF’s) a term which only came about in 1996 and added to the dictionary in 2010 has become a common description for good friends. A BFF is typically a person’s best friend and the two individuals have been close friends because of shared experiences like growing up together, attending high school or college together. The bond between BFF’s is supposed to be a friendship that lasts forever and stands the test of time. People can have more than one BFF, and the term is more often used on social media outlets such as Facebook or Snapchat.
Friends, we all have them. The average American claims to have on average about nine close friends. When I think of my own friends, I can count the number of people on two hands that I have as close friends other than my sisters. I have one or two that live close by but most of them are long distance. We don’t talk all the time, but I know they are there when I need them and can call on them for anything. Ralph Waldo Emerson was quoted as saying, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
When it comes to electronic friends, are they really friends? According to my Facebook page, I have over 500 friends. On LinkedIn I have over 1,000 followers. According to my Twitter page, I have over 7,000 followers. However, according to experts the individuals you connect with in cyberspace are not the ones that have the greatest impact on your happiness.
According to Dr. Debra Umberson, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin “Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into better immune function, reduces stress and less cardiovascular activation. In other words, having meaningful friendships is good for your health. Even the Bible covers the benefits of having friends. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (CEV) reads, “If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.” Friends are a gift from God and are important to our wellbeing.
Most recently when I was experiencing a family emergency, I had an opportunity to learn the true value of friendship. My sister was in the hospital for over 35 days with most of them spent in intensive care. For over a month I sat at her bedside praying for her and waiting on improvement which came in very small increments. Once most of my friends learned of her illness, they didn’t hesitate to contact me by telephone or text to let me know they were praying for me. They all asked what they could do and checked with me often to make sure I was okay. I had the assurance and knew they were praying for me night and day.
One of my friends, my BFF that I grew up with went above and beyond the call of duty. She saw one of my sister’s Facebook posts and called me immediately to find out how she could help. She started out by driving my baby sister from Texas when she was too tired to drive herself after abruptly ending her vacation and arriving home late. After driving my baby sister down, my friend sat with us in the ICU waiting room several days before returning home.
After she got home she found it hard to resume her life knowing how serious my sister’s situation was. My younger sister and I were trying to coordinate our schedules so that one of us could be with her every day while my other sister cared for our Dad. My friend called and asked to be included in the rotation to sit at the hospital. I had been away for home almost two weeks and she was willing to cover me for a few days while I returned home to work and my husband. Before I left to go home for a few days, my friend accompanied me to the hospital every day and learned the routine of caring for our sister including massaging her feet a couple of times a day. During the days I was there she sometimes beat me to the hospital and was always on her post.
Intensive care was a quiet place and we sat from morning until night observing any changes in my sister’s health. My friend didn’t have to say a lot, just being there made all the difference in the world. I sat and worked on my computer and waited for the doctors to come in and out with test results and next steps. My friend sat quietly and worked on her computer as well. We worked in silence occasionally reminiscing about the old days. When I had to step out of the room, she was there taking care of my sister. She ended up staying in town until the day my sister moved to rehab.
Proverbs 18:24 (CEV) says, “Some friends don’t help but a true friend is closer than your own family.” I am thankful to my friend who stepped up to become of my sisters in our time of need. There was no way I could repay her for what she did for our family so I wanted to put it in writing. I tried as many ways to thank her that I could think of but she just reminded me of the song Dionne Warwick sang back in the day, “That’s What Friends are For.” Aundrea, I’m just letting you know that my sisters and I are forever grateful to you for your unselfishness in our time of need. You have truly shown yourself to be there not only in good times but in bad times. Thanks for being a true BFF!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach