“Ugh! This happens at every meal,” I rant after dropping a fork on the dining room floor.
During Christmas, H and I decided that new cutlery would be our gift to each other. Because we’re comfortable in our marriage like that. And the change was long over due.
When we told our kids about our plans, they replied in tandem,“Thank God! I hate those spoons we’ve used for our entire existence on the planet!”
We had no idea that while they were scooping Cheerios from a bowl of milk, shoveling spicy chili into their mouths, and savoring chocolate chip ice cream, those spoons were making their eating experiences so unpleasant. They never said a word.
The unprovoked honesty of my children, along with the distasteful contrast of tarnished tines and dingy knives laid out next to pretty plates for dinner parties, provided a green light of confirmation about our shared gift.
Change is Vulnerable
In February, my son, husband and I made a planned pit stop in the Cotswolds, on our way home from a trip to Scotland, for finally picking out our present. We stretched our legs by walking into the Robert Welch shop and perused the cutlery patterns available for purchase.
Dreaming of shiny new silver replacing the tired antique set inherited from my Great Aunt several decades ago, we were finally poised to take the plunge.
Circling each row of place settings, dawdling over desirable designs, weighing them in our palms, feeling the unique features with our fingertips, we were each imagining how the salad forks and soup spoons might look while flanking our blue and white Wedgewood dishes, purchased on clearance at Marshall’s years ago.
“So, have you narrowed it down? Which patterns do you like the best?” I pose the question to both of my men. Strongly opinionated and well researched, normally their feedback speaks loudest, and I tend to acquiesce. Because keeping the peace is a high value for this ENFP, Enneagram 4, wife and mother.
But this time, I discerned my opinion held the most sway in the pack. Perhaps what I want in this scenario matters most because I own the kitchen, or because my husband is humble, kind, and longs to put a smile on my face, or because if Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.
The weight of responsibility coupled with workers ready to close shop for the evening, brought on a case of decision fatigue. As a slow processor, I was smack dab in the preamble to a panic attack. Picking out forks felt more like the death of me than a gift to be cherished for years.
Then I turned the corner as something surprising happened.
Identify the Voice of Fear
As feelings began hijacking my brain of all rationale and confidence, I began asking myself questions instead of allowing fear to bully me.
Why am I feeling this way?
Where are these emotions coming from?
Why is this decision feeling so big, weighty, and important right now?
Why am I feeling fear about something that isn’t scary or dangerous?
What is the deeper truth my emotions are triggering?
What are the lies I might be telling myself right now?
Suddenly, I was a little girl, following my mother around a grocery store. She’s asking me what I want for dinner and I’m completely overwhelmed by all the choices. Will I still want frozen pizza in a few hours? What if I pick something I don’t actually like? Mostly, I can’t make the decision about dinner options because the bottle of cheap wine she casually placed in the cart is making me feel unseen and insecure.
Change makes you feel like a child again: unhinged, unsure, and insecure about who you are when you can’t determine outcomes.
Tell Yourself the Truth
My hands began shaking and heart pounding the more I looped around all the beautiful stainless-steel options. How can I choose between so many good options? What if I regret the choice I make every time I sit down at the table to eat a meal?
Uncertainty can make you feel vulnerable if you forget that God’s presence is certain. Even if you make a bad decision, He is still working all things together for your good.
“Maybe we don’t need new silverware after all. I mean, is the stuff we’re using really that bad? I don’t know, I guess I need more time to think about this,” I whisper to H while fiddling with a teaspoon.
“We’ve been thinking about doing this for months. And yes, it really is that bad. The silver is wearing off and you already know Harrison hates the spoons. If we don’t do this now, when will be back here?”
During the Exodus, every time the Israelites encounter uncertainty, they respond, “Take us back to Egypt,” and we’re still echoing their example today.
Uncertainty triggers fear and we seek the familiar as comfort. We long for certainty more than the new things God has for us.
Each time I drop a utensil on the floor, my son reminds me that we didn’t pick the pattern he liked best. “I told you we should’ve picked the other pattern, that one is too heavy,” he reminds me with a grin on his face.
As we banter back and forth, I’m reminded that risks are worth taking because God loves me. Those forks, knives, and spoons are a reminder of His goodness.
Fear clouds rationale and causes paralysis. And Truth sets us free to wander into God’s abundance.
Choose to listen to the truth.
And when truth seems as though it’s hiding in plan sight, be still, stand firm, and allow God to fight for you. (Exodus 14:13)
Like the Israelites, don’t allow the things that are tangible to enslave you – what you eat, where you sleep, how you look, your paycheck, or the cutlery on your dinner table. We are safe in the uncertainty of the wilderness that transitions often bring with them because His presence is continually with us.
What more do we need?
Are you going through a transition? Waiting for uncertainty to change to certainty? How might those six questions I asked myself bring clarity to your situation?
Added on 4/19/2018 after many people requested a photo of the cutlery we picked. Here is the pattern. Tada!