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What to do with conflicting thoughts…

Do you ever feel like you are watching your life go by as if it is a movie and you are glued to the screen but helpless to change the plot line? So, if my life were a movie right now, it would be a mix of The Matrix, Alice in Wonderland and Pulp Fiction.

Yes, I am in IT right now.

While in this place of craziness and weirdness – I am trying to make sense of what appears to be on the surface conflicting thoughts. But if I have conflicting thoughts, then do I have a divided heart? And a divided heart is terrible, and if I have one of those then I am bad…(oversimplified yes, but still valid)

Let’s look at this a bit more.

So let’s pretend: it is Saturday, and I have two options before me. One, go turkey hunting or two, go to the movies and see last Avengers movie: Endgame.

This is how I process these two thoughts.

First, I realize this – I want to do both. Both sound fun. Both are things I like to do. So, they stand opposed – because I can not do them both at the same time – but they are not contradictory. One is not by its nature better than the other. But choosing one, will be saying no to others, correct? So that is just a reality of life from time to time, two thoughts are standing in opposition to one another. This does not mean you are crazy or divided when it happens. It is just the way life goes. (I am saying this as much for me as I am for you.)

Thus, if you ask, “Kevin, which do you think is best?” I am going to tell you the reason that both are good, both are fun and how there are good reasons to do both of them. You see, even though the options are in opposition, that does not necessarily mean they are one is bad or wrong. And furthermore, I am not crazy or bad for having opposing thoughts. But I still must make a decision.

I will name my priorities and what I value in what I decide to do. One must win, the other is either not ever chosen or just delayed. But it is my priority and my values that actively shape what I do next.

Another factor in making the decision is the weather conditions. If it is pouring and windy, a determination is made for me. I am going to a movie. IF instead, it is beautiful and perfect hunting conditions, then no matter the film, I will be in the field. There are external conditions that influence the decision.

One more I would like to name in this very non-exhaustive list: other people. My family and what they are going to do or not do comes into play. Those people closest to you that you care about the most should have an influence on what you choose and don’t choose in moments. Thus all the factors come together: Other people, the weather conditions of your life, and your priorities and values to make a decision when facing opposing thoughts.

So, I need to say this because there are times when I wrestle with opposing thoughts and even articulate them to others, and I feel like I am being passive, or wishy-washy because I can argue for both sides. I am not being a fence-rider, but instead, I am processing out loud and doing my best to move towards wholeness and decisions that based in my values/priorities, the people that matter most, within each given context.

The wise and mighty prophet Wendell Berry sums it up well:

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.[1]

[1] Wendell Berry Copyright ©1983 by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words. Counterpoint.

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