How Can I Decide Without Knowing the Outcome?

By: Marci M

When I was in 8th grade, I accidentally won a full scholarship to a private high school. It happened like this: my parents always told me that standardized test-taking is a skill in itself, so I should practice any chance I got. One day I learned that a small private high school in my hometown was offering a scholarship competition for anyone who wanted to spend two consecutive Saturdays taking standardized tests from 8 am – 5 pm. Gee, I wanted to find out if I could think that long! In the end, I won one of five full scholarships by accident. I mean, I was just taking the tests for practice, but all of a sudden I was faced with the biggest decision of my 8th grade life. Tall and gangly, awkward and uncoordinated, pimply and nerdy, I didn’t have any idea what to do.

I asked my parents, my friends, my middle school teachers – anyone I could think of, trying to find someone to tell me what to do. I gathered lots of opinions and often conflicting advice, but of course everyone said the choice was mine. It was my life; I needed to decide how I wanted to spend it.

But how could I know what to do when I couldn’t foresee the outcome? What would it be like at that leafy private school, with about 20 students in the freshman class and me not knowing a soul? For that matter, what would it be like when I started 9th grade at the concrete public high school, with my circle of friends being only a few of some 600 freshmen? How could I know which one to choose when I didn’t know what I was choosing? I mean, it wasn’t like I could ask for two tiny plastic spoons at the neighborhood ice cream shop, taste both the salted caramel and the toffee crunch, and make a choice.

In the absence of any better decision making process, I ended up deciding that I’d never know what private school would be like if I didn’t try it. I could always default to the public high school if I didn’t like it.

After two years at the private school, I had dated all the tall boys and most of the short ones. I decided I’d learned about all I could learn from that small school experience, and decided to return to the public high school for my junior and senior years.

That same year, I found God. I learned about a much better decision-making process. I learned that Someone can see the outcome of my choices. God actually can see into the future. Because He loves me more than I can imagine and wants nothing but the best for me, He can guide my path if I ask Him. That doesn’t mean that everything always turns out the way I’d like it; sometimes He has a better idea. And sometimes He lets me learn things the hard way.

As Jeffrey R. Holland says, “There are times that the only way to get from A to C is by way of B . . . . I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship, when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, ‘I told you that it’d be okay, I told you it would be all right.’”

There have been many decisions I’ve had to make in the decades since 8th grade. I still can’t foresee the future. But I can talk to Someone who can. And He will guide my path if I ask Him.

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