- August 26, 2018
- Josh Godwin
There’s a scene in the award-winning HBO mini-series Band of Brothers that I think about a lot. If you’ve never seen it, and I highly recommend you pause reading this and go watch all 10 hour-long episodes at this moment, the episodes chronicle the heroics of a group of paratroopers in World War II. It is a harrowing account of heroism during one of the direst hours of human history and an excellent work of artistic filmmaking.
But enough of my glowing review you didn’t ask for.
The one moment that sticks with me happens in the midst of a chaotic charge towards a German occupied town in Belgium. The officer in charge of a group of soldiers rushes forward to the first cover he can find alongside his fellow soldiers. But when he gets there and the first shell explodes near him, the officer stops cold behind a giant hay bale. His subordinates surround him, begging him for orders so that they can push on and survive the onslaught being hurled at them. Instead of taking charge as he should, he stares back at them with empty, hopeless eyes.
How often are we much like that soldier, frozen in place while chaos swirls around us? I find myself stuck behind hay bales quite often. Not literal hay bales; that would be an odd habit to keep. I find myself rooted behind mental and emotional hay bales, moments in my life that I approach but do not pass.
I hope it’s not a lack of bravery that keeps me rooted to my place. I don’t think it’s laziness either. No, what keeps me rooted in place gazing ahead with empty eyes is the worst character trait I readily admit.
I am horrendously, egregiously indecisive. Not a lazy indecisive. In fact that may be the antithesis of my brand of indecisiveness. I struggle making decisions in these critical moments not because I don’t want to, but because in my earnestness all the options overwhelm me. Should I take the path to my left, at the expense of some minor detail? Or do I take the path on my right, the one I suspect is correct but filled with unanswered questions? I stick myself in the middle, bogged down into immobility. That moment of indecisiveness becomes my trap and my prison.
Indecisiveness is more often that not rooted in fear: the fear of failure, of choosing incorrectly. We become so bound up in worry for choosing correctly that our fear of the incorrect prevents us from making a decision at all. We are trapped by our immovable worry and the hard reality of failure. In a success-driven culture where our worth is determined only by our victories, we cannot tolerate the reality of failure. We must choose the right path because our very identity depends on it. The pressure continues to layer on us, driving us farther and farther into the quicksand that threatens to hold us fast.
In those moments I am grateful for the words of Psalm 119, that God’s “word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” In the midst of my indecisiveness, when I am mired down in the muck of the crossroads, I am reminded there is a light to guide out of that place. God yearns for us to continue following along the path laid before us, as it brings us closer to His presence. God has equipped us to walk that road with holy words of courageous affirmation, of stern guidance, and of peaceful reassurance that we can hold in our hand and hear repeated in our hearts.
Those words give us the roadmap to wisdom and discernment that we need to move forward. Indecisiveness is the enemy of growth. It is impossible for us to grow, in life and in faith, if we cannot discern the paths before us because of our fear of choosing incorrectly amidst all the options. Fortunately, and thankfully, we do not have to live crippled with indecisive hearts and minds. We have a light to guide us down the path before us, if we just trust and listen.