I recently had an afternoon to spend at the local hospital. I needed some tests and then had an appointment a few hours later. It didn’t make sense to leave so I decided to wait it out.
Time is malleable. When I’m doing something I love, hours slip by as fast as a fox across a field. When I’m waiting to see an oncologist, minutes limp along, an arthritic dog laboring his way to the door.
I noticed that making decisions doesn’t come easily during the waiting time.
On a good day, I take my time to decide anything. I like to research and study before making a choice. If you’ve eaten with me in a restaurant, you know I can go two ways: always ordering the same thing or taking a long time to inspect the menu before asking the server for his suggestion.
During a time of unknowing, my hesitant decision making skills peter out. I stood at the cooler looking at cold sandwiches for ten minutes. Roast beef? Cheese and tomato? Baguette? Italian? I was both thankful and envious when someone came up and took the last turkey and cheese.
Thankful because it was one less choice, envious because she had made her decision so quickly and maybe that was the best sandwich!
Less emotional energy
When facing a big change or big news, I have less emotional energy. A sandwich choice is going to seem much more imposing than usual.
I went with the roast beef.
If you know someone has a lot going on, try making a decision for them.
During a crisis, the natural offer is to say “Let me know if you need anything.” Of course it’s an offer made from generosity but the person doesn’t have the emotional energy to let anyone know. She probably is struggling to even tell what she needs, let alone communicate it.
A concrete offer can be more helpful. “I will call you on Wednesday just to say hello.” “I will bring you tea at 3:15.”
You might get refused but that’s OK.
Sometimes the effort to not think about something makes it impossible to think at all. I didn’t want to think about cancer so I couldn’t think about which sandwich would taste good. It was as if my brain went onto energy-saver mode.
Facing something tough? Save your hard choices for the times when you’re clear-headed.
It’s OK to say, “I’m having an off day and I can’t make this decision right now.”
PS—I got to my appointment with the oncologist. She looked over the test results and said, “Not malignant. So that’s good news.”
I left the office and crossed the skywalk. I passed the prayer room and decided to go in. I fell to my knees, thinking, “Thank you God for the gift of my life. I know someone right now in this hospital is hearing the word, malignant. Comfort them and give them the strength they need.”
Giving thanks is one decision I know is always right, even in times I can’t pick a sandwich.