4 Practical Tips for When You Can’t Decide

Have you ever struggled with a decision? How do you decide when your head and your heart disagree? Which do you trust?

Have you ever struggled to make a #decision? How do you decide when your head and your heart disagree? Which do you #trust? Share on X

We brought home a new puppy to fill the gaping hole our departed standard poodle’s untimely death left in our hearts. Strider, as we call him, immediately lifted our spirits. He was the joy boy we needed. His tail wagged during play, and he made every effort to please.

He was wonderful—except for a small limp. At his puppy appointment I pointed it out to our vet. “Try to keep him quiet a few days. It should heal. Call me if it doesn’t.”

It didn’t.

Two more visits and an X-ray showed bone OCD in his right shoulder. He would require shoulder surgery and 6-8 weeks of confinement. Sometimes both shoulders are affected.

In the four weeks we’d shared together, Strider has learned to run to me when I call. When he needs to potty, he stands on his hind legs and tries to turn the doorknob. He shows the intelligence of our Max and the desire to please of our lost Cosette. The thought of returning him rips our already tattered hearts. But the cost of surgery and reality of managing a puppy after surgery gives us pause.

Larry and I have ping-ponged back and forth. When one of us has peace on returning Strider, circumstances have interfered or the other wavers. Our grown children, of course, want us to keep him. Now the coronavirus mandates have come down. How will this affect us?

The breeder guarantees her puppies. That means we could get a new one, not that she covers surgery costs. We are willing to care for him, but our ministry survives on donations. In such a time of economic uncertainty should we keep a puppy that requires medical attention? On the other hand, without quick intervention, it sounds like he is doomed to a life of pain.

The book of wisdom says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take” (Pro. 3:5-6 NLT).

Practical Tips to Help You Decide

How does this work when making tough decisions? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Seek God’s will.
    If I’m committed to following God’s path, the Scripture promises He will show it to me. But fears and desires can create emotional noise that drowns out God’s voice. Only when I’m willing to do God’s will can I discern His gentle guidance over the clamor of my concerns.

    Remind yourself that no one ever regrets following God’s will, but we always regret not heeding it. God’s will always proves perfect in the long run (Rom. 12:2), even if it doesn’t look perfect in the moment. Surrender your will and affirm your desire for His will to be done.
  2. Listen to the story you’re telling yourself.
    We can weave great stories in our minds. Some spin fairytales, others tragedies. We create fictional stories about our past and future. In the case of our puppy, I saw him limping in pain for the rest of his life if we returned him. On the other hand, the scenario of keeping him included the possibility of ongoing vet bills. Another story said there would never be another puppy as sweet and smart as this one.
    The stories I told myself concerned the future. And Jesus clearly said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:34). I had to corral my thoughts and make them submit to Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5). The Bible says to think on things that are true (Phil. 4:8). The truth is no human knows the future. But I know the One who holds my future will not forsake me, however this story plays out.
    The truth is no human knows the future. But I know the One who holds my future will not forsake me, however this story plays out. #BigGod Share on X .
  3. Don’t fear making the wrong decision.
    Pressure to make the perfect decision can be paralyzing. How can we make the right decision when we don’t know everything? Only God is all-knowing. However, we can trust that He will reward those who seek Him, and that provides precious peace of mind (Heb. 11:6).

  4. Pray with thanksgiving.
    When I make my requests to God with thanksgiving, I receive His peace (Phil. 4:6-7). I thank Him that He has heard me. He is leading me. In His time, it will be clear. It’s not up to me to get this right. I only need to trust Him.
    Our research has swayed us back and forth. We need God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds. It is up to Him to open and shut the doors (Pro. 16:9). Lack of peace has caused us to take our time.
    Am I trusting in my ability to decide? Or am I trusting in His ability to guide (Ps. 32:8)?

A recent devotion ended with this assignment: “Seek today to live beyond your circumstances.” Larry and I discussed it, and right now we have no peace in returning our joy boy (Rom. 14:23). The breeder said to take our time. Are we to heed another Scripture? “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” (Heb. 12:12 NASB). We appreciate your prayers as we wait for God to show us the right path.

What helps you when you can’t decide?

Am I trusting in my ability to #decide? Or am I trusting in His ability to #guide? Share on X



Update on Strider:

It turns our Strider doesn’t have bone OCD. The vet doesn’t know what is wrong. He may get worse; he may get better; he may stay the same. For us it means he is ours! We are keeping him and praying for Jehovah to heal Strider’s stride!

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory  #Recharge Wednesday, #TuneinThursaday, #Dance with Jesus, #Grace&Truth,

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  1. Emily | To Unearth

    I love that you pointed out we should not fear making the wrong decision. I used to work with college students who feared this very thing when it came to starting their careers. I would tell them sometimes God doesn’t give us a clear answer, and He grants us the ability to simply decide on our own. If both options can glorify God, then there is no wrong decision. But that is certainly easier said than applied!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Emily, that is wise counsel. I’ve seen God direct and redirect as I step forward. Thanks.

    • Theresa Boedeker

      Emily. My thoughts exactly. So often there are more than one good answer and God leaves it for us to decide. It seems if he has a specific answer for us, or only one answer, he makes that known.

      Debbie, praying for wisdom in your dog decision.

      • Debbie Wilson

        Thanks so much, Theresa! I appreciate it. I told Strider, with all of these prayers, we know he is in good hands.

  2. Ann Musico

    Oh Debbie I’m sorry to hear your sweet joy boy is experiencing this and that you have such a difficult decision before you but I will certainly add my prayers for you and Larry to hear clearly what God’s will is in this situation and I have no doubt it will be best for him and you.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, it has been an emotional roller coaster. The breeder couldn’t take him back for a week and during that week we got a hopeful prognosis from two surgeons and more attached. But still many unknowns. But isn’t that true with life? God has used this to remind me of what I do know. Thanks so much for your prayers!

  3. Marilyn Butler

    Your blog about making decisions touched my heart. I am filled with joy you found your ‘joy boy’ and filled with sadness for his condition. I am praying that you and Larry will feel comfort and peace in the decision you find in prayer…. How a puppy brings complete love to us is one of God’s gifts! I am praying…. With love and blessings!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Marilyn. They are gifts.

  4. Yvonne Chase

    I read a great article recently that said just because you made a decision and things didn’t go well, doesn’t mean you made a wrong decision. We only have control over us not over other circumstances therefore, what happens outside of us once we decide and take action is not on us.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yvonne, I so agree with this, “just because you made a decision and things didn’t go well, doesn’t mean you made a wrong decision.” But our tendency to go go back and figure out what we did wrong. The Lord has been speaking to me in so many ways concerning this. Thanks so much.

  5. Janice

    Debbie, thank you for sharing as you go through trials! Decision making can be so hard! It would be so much easier if God just told us exactly what to do. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes not, sometimes neither decision is wrong and God blesses us either way, if our decision is based on love. You & Larry both are very compassionate and I pray God clearly speaks to your hearts, that you will have peace in whatever decision you are lead to make for Strider. I struggle with indecisiveness often. Twice in my life with huge decisions I have asked God for a fleece which miraculously He answered! I pray for clear direction & Gods peace that passes understanding for your family

    • Debbie Wilson

      Janice, thank you so much. I love how the Lord answered you!

  6. Melissa Henderson

    I pray I will trust in His guidance and not lean on my own wishes. Thank you for this message.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too, Melissa. I tend to trust my understanding, and when He leads in ways that don’t line up with that, I feel uneasy.

  7. Michele Morin

    Agonizing decision! And you are so right to point out that we gain nothing by acting out of fear.
    Thanks for this thoughtful piece.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Michele. It is amazing the things God uses to take you back to what matters most—knowing and pleasing Him.

  8. J.D. Wininger

    Ms. Debbie and Mr. Larry, I can’t help you with your decision about Strider. I trust that you read my blog from last week (Saving the Discards) and will at least consider your best option, and that is praying for guidance. When we love our animals and we understand that God has given us charge over them as their caregivers, then we must also understand the responsibility we have to them, and to God. Know that I’ll be praying as you work through this decision-making process. God’s blessings dear friends.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, J. D. I’m going to read it now. I did make an appointment with a surgeon. One step at a time. I don’t think either of us feel we can let this little guy go.

  9. Patsy Burnette

    I love your points here, Debbie, especially #1! 🙂 I think there’s going to be a lot of decision making in the coming days for many of us, so this is good info to have! Great reminders!!!


    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Patsy. And I believe you are right about having to make some touch decisions.

  10. Carlie

    Aarrgghh! Such a tough decision! I pray that God will make clear for you which path you should take and when as you trust Him day by day. Thanks for the practical tips for us all when we face tough decisions of our own.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Carlie. He is to see a surgeon Friday if we aren’t locked down! We’ll go from there.

  11. Jennifer Smith

    Great thoughts for seeking God’s wisdom….I hope that Strider is doing well and will get his surgery:)

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Jennifer. We take him tomorrow to be examined by the surgeon. If it only requires one shoulder, we plan to move ahead. If both shoulders are affected, we aren’t sure. Appreciate prayers for our little buddy.

  12. Mary Geisen

    I am praying as you continue to discern what is best for your joy boy. Thank you for the wise counsel when making a decision.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you for your prayer, Mary.

  13. Lisa notes

    Oh, my heart hurts for you as you face this tough decision, Debbie. 🙁

    I feel so much comfort reading your 4 tips though. Even in these times of uncertainty where I’m not having to make as many decisions, I still appreciate these truths you are sharing. “Remind yourself that no one ever regrets following God’s will, but we always regret not heeding it.” Amen.

    I’m going to feature your post at the Grace & Truth linkup this Friday at my blog and point others to this great post! Thank you for sharing. And do keep us updated on your sweet boy.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Lisa! I appreciate that so much. I’ll add a postscript with an update!

  14. Dolly at Soulstops

    Hi Debbie,

    Oh, my heart went out to you as we love our dog. Praying God heals Strider and that God gives you both perfect peace on what to do. Funny, I mentioned Psalm 32:8 in my reply to Lisa B on her blog (Lisa Notes) before I read your post and saw you mentioned Ps. 32:8.



    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Dolly. And that verse is a real comfort.

  15. Susie Browne

    Debbie, Thank you for the timely message.
    God has an answer for everything in His Word. It gives me much comfort that we can find all the instructions/directions for life in the Bible. If we seek Him, He will be found. He also gives us wisdom when we ask. Pray earnestly and fervently………. God will never disappoint us.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen! Thank you, Susie. I know you practice this.

  16. Jeannie Waters

    Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your heart and guidance from God’s Word.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Jeannie! God bless.

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