My Grandpa Bob always says, "Life is nothing but a series of decisions." Apparently, I really took this simple outlook to heart. I remember a time while I was living in Duluth where I stood in Walmart with my friends and stared at the shampoo and conditioner, trying to figure out the right ones to buy. This one had a great smell, but that one had the right price, and the other one was supposed to make your hair grow longer... and of course the longer hair the better in my book. I couldn't make sense of it all. I truly was trying to pick the perfect option as if there was one. My friends were awesome and patiently waited for me, finding it funny.
Looking back, I realize that I pretty much treat all decisions in my life this way. From the meager ones, to the important ones, I am constantly over analyzing. I scrutinized over where to go to college for months and it was on my mind just about every other thought. The funny thing is, I still ended up transferring and choosing somewhere else even after all that time making sure UMD was the "right" decision.
My point is, and I am still learning this, there are no perfect decisions in life. There are some that are better than others, but no decision comes with guarantees. In fact, I could stand there for a whole hour if I wanted trying to pick the right shampoo and still think it sucked after one wash. I could go to a college that I did hours of research on making sure it was the right one and still transfer. And in the end, that is really okay. Every decision we make is just a piece of our journey. Okay, maybe your shampoo doesn't make the cut, but like Grandpa said your life does become a sum of all those big or small decisions. And sometimes the decisions we make that don't end up being the perfect choice have the most impact on our lives, not always in a bad way. My decision to go to Duluth might not have been the perfect choice of college for me, but I would never go back and tell myself to make a different one. All of those experiences shape who we are, and I learned so much during that year.
God has a unique journey for each of us and he uses all of those not so great decisions we might make to refine us and help us learn. Without these experiences, we wouldn't be prepared for the purpose that we have been put on this planet for.
That's why, there should be no "beating yourself up" over a decision you regret. Everything is a learning experience. That means saying, "wow, I'm never doing that again because (fill in the blank)" not "I am such a failure." Most people's decisions revolve around other people and what will be perceived as the best choice to everyone else. When this occurs, it is best to consult the wise words of the band Boston:
"Now everybody's got advice they just keep on givin'
Doesn't mean too much to me
Lots of people out to make-believe they're livin'
Can't decide who they should be
I understand about indecision
But I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind"
It is important to remember that God's plan is better than your own or anyone else's for you. His way is not the easiest but he is the one who knows you better than you know yourself. So whatever the next big decision is coming up in your life, and you may not even know yet, let yourself focus less on making it the "right" choice and focus more on praying and asking what can be done. Instead of getting wrapped up in balancing what you "should" do vs. what you want to do vs. what is practical to do, etc. focus on listening to that quiet little voice of the Lord leading you down a path that probably looks nothing like anything you could have imagined.
Just send up a big "your will be done," with an "amen hallelujah," and move on.
Ps: can someone tell me to take my own advice, jeesh.