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How often we look for a reason to live and do things in a way that really falls short of how we should be living or doing things. We look for an ‘okay’ in efforts to justify a wrong decision.
I have often heard things like: “Look at you, you went through this or made a similar decision to the one I’m considering, and your life turned out okay. Actually, wouldn’t you say you are better off?”
These are the same people who would even call me a hypocrite if I have learned a lesson from my mistake and would now totally advise against the very decision I had previously made.
Why We Look For Someone To Follow
I know that in trying to rationalize or excuse something that we may be doing or planning on doing we look to others in a similar situation. We look for their victory in a certain area and make this our motivation or excuse to make the same wrong choices or decide to commit to the same mistakes they made.
We all have done this. I think of when my mother asked me why I lied (rarely did I lie) or why I took something I shouldn’t have. My answer was always the same – “well, she did it,” totally blaming my sister for my decision and misbehavior.
We do this for the reason of easing our own guilt and excusing what we are doing. We think that this will justify our choice. If someone else has gone before us and made a choice that you are contemplating, then that makes it all the easier to proceed.
Even Adam in the Garden of Eden fell into this trap. He ate the apple Eve offered him, the forbidden fruit, and then went on to say “I ate it because she gave it to me“… That definitely sounds like my kids!
Talk about passing the buck or blaming someone else. I also wonder if Adam saw that Eve was obviously enjoying the apple and nothing bad seemed to be happening to her, so why not?! Why shouldn’t he do the same? It wasn’t the end of the world…Or was it?
Eve did it…
You see, his decision to follow her lead, and justifying his action in his mind left him with years of now toiling and labor for the food he would have to eat.
His little game of justifying his behavior led to years of sweat, hard labor, sowing, reaping and harvesting the ground. He was no longer able to walk alongside God in the Garden anymore. And now he even had to make clothing because his eyes were opened and he could see that he was naked.
Sure, he could pray and still call on God. He even had a long life. But, in a whole different way. He actually damaged his relationship with the Lord that he had enjoyed for so long.
He separated himself from the intimate companionship of our loving God all for the reason of finding a way to rationalize and commit his ‘little’ sin.
In today’s world
I have done this very thing. Looking for other’s opinions and behaviors and then making a ‘bad’ decision on what I witnessed or heard.
I will share a story.
In the past, I worked for a doctor’s office that performed abortions.
Now, this is totally against my personal faith and belief. As a pro-life Catholic, I strongly believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
But, back before I was even Catholic, I knew deep down it was something that didn’t sit well with my heart and soul.
When remembering being interviewed for the job at the time and the physician telling me they performed abortions there and asking if I would have a problem with it?
Quickly justifying in my mind that it was the woman’s decision and it wasn’t me making the decision, so I would be an innocent nurse just doing my job.
I remember how I would try to ease my conscience by asking select friends what they thought, knowing all along that they subscribed to the liberal mindset that is so prominent all around us.
I would definitely have a hard time finding someone who would disagree with me taking the job and I certainly would never find a person who would try to talk me out of it.
And I was right. Everyone I chose to speak with about it, didn’t see any problem with me working at that particular facility. Actually, they thought it was such a great thing I was doing. All I received was encouragement.
I knew exactly what I was doing and how to easily relieve myself of any guilt associated with my decision – this worked perfectly for the time being.
Taking the job only to have my conscience soon win out. I got tired of reminding myself ‘why‘ it was all okay, and I ended up finding another job elsewhere.
We all do exactly the same thing
Truth is we do exactly the same thing every day. After coming up with a thought of doing something or making a decision that we know deep down in our hearts is wrong. We then start to look for a way around the ‘sin’ or obstacle and begin to justify why this choice would be right or okay for me.
Searching for ‘real-life’ examples of people who will definitely agree with us and/or have already made the choice we are contemplating. We look to social media for people to rally around our decision and agree with our point of view. Searching out those who will be our ‘tribe’ and see our situation from our own perspective.
Then once we realize that there is perceived ‘happiness’ in the decision we are looking to justify, we proceed giving ourselves a green light. We take comfort in knowing that there are those that agree with us and stand behind our ‘wrong’ choice. We build support clubs based on pats on the back, likes, comments, and groups.
Approval in numbers
We talk ourselves into a justified approval of our actions. All because someone else or other people, whom we respect, did it and it turned out all okay. It worked for them and it will surely work for us, right? They have agreed 100 percent with our choice, so how can it be wrong?
I think, for all of us, life is full of these types of decisions. We know in our hearts that what we are planning on doing may not be the right thing. It may even be sinful. But, we search and search until we find the answer we want and a flimsy confirmation that lines up with our own ‘already made‘ decision.
This way of thinking gives us the little push we need to proceed with our wrong but seemingly justified decision. But, incidentally, we are all created with a deep desire to love and please God.
So, this little game we play is our way of easing our own conscience and ‘rationalizing’ our decision. It is what we do to rid ourselves of the gnawing feeling of guilt down deep that is gently directing us towards a more righteous path.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are gifted and graced with God’s very presence inside of us. We know when something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
But, he is not there to control or ‘make’ us do something. One of the greatest gifts we have each received is free will. That means we have to invite, surrender and let Him guide us.
Guidance for making a decision
So, when there is a decision we are trying to make regardless of our opinion of it, we can simply pray and seek God Himself for guidance. This guidance can come in the form of a scripture reading, advice from a faithful & trusted friend, a spiritual director, your pastor, or from deep inside of your heart.
There is no wisdom in and no need to find a crowd that will happily pat us on the back and all the while we head down the wrong road and mistakenly make a wrong life decision.
God dwells in your heart and walks with you there. He speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. If you truly seek, you will find the direction you are searching for.
When we start doing this in the little everyday decisions we become accustomed to this way of thinking and life becomes clearer. The path we should follow becomes illuminated with the light of God’s Word. When we are headed in the wrong direction our gut will reveal it to us.
Search for truth instead of comfort
Don’t search for false comfort in the advice of those who are not concerned about your eternal soul. Look to the one who is in love with the very soul. The one He Himself gave you.
When making a decision that you are having trouble with, one that can forever change your life.
Talk honestly and openly with the ones who have been in your shoes. Those that are faithful and whose life choices you respect. Ask them for advice and really listen to them.
Search out those who you know love you enough not to just agree with you as you head in the wrong direction. Find those you may not agree with, but out of pure love, will tell you the truth.