I suffer from analysis paralysis on a regular basis.
The incredible technology we have at our fingertips with Google and smartphones and pages upon pages of customer reviews is often a blessing, but when we use it as a crutch, even the most unimportant decisions seem mountainous.
I spent at least five minutes in the tea section at HomeGoods last weekend.
Should I buy the blueberry elderflower white tea that I’ve never had before for $2.99? Or should I buy the plain old black tea I know I’ll like for $3.99? Is certainty in enjoying the tea worth an extra dollar? Or should I live a little and try something new? Surely I can give the rest of the box to someone else if I don’t like it? What is an elderflower anyway? But do I even need more tea at all? If I pick up this box of tea, will I then be more likely to buy other superfluous things I also don’t need?
I probably looked like a crazy woman standing there waffling over boxes of tea.
There’s a psychological phenomenon known as “ego depletion,” which states that we only have a finite amount of willpower. The more decisions have to we make, the poorer the outcomes will be as we run out of energy. It’s the scientific backing for laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before you need them.
Despite being responsible for much more life-changing decisions than I deal with on a regular basis, Jesus’ disciples didn’t suffer from analysis paralysis. When the disciples needed to select a candidate to replace Judas, they prayed about it…and then they cast lots.
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. They they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
They didn’t sit around deliberating for hours on end. They didn’t consult their friends or family or Google or experts who had a certain number of years of experience. They just relied on God to show them the right candidate. That’s it.
Can you imagine having that much trust in God that you would flip a freaking quarter next time you need to make a life-changing decision? Not praying as a backup to all your research and contingency planning — guilty here — trusting completely that God will make that 50/50 split fall in just the right way.
It’s scary, but also incredibly liberating, to relinquish the burden of overthinking and let God guide your decisions. I wouldn’t bet on 50/50 odds, but with God, we know that everything will turn out according to his plan.
If the disciples could trust God so fully when picking the one who would join them to carry on Jesus’ commands, then so can I. That trust is growing in me, a little at a time.