Amy Carroll » Blog » 4 Powerful Steps to Help You with Hard Decisions

4 Powerful Steps to Help You with Hard Decisions

Researchers say that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. That’s 2,000 in an hour, and one every two seconds. Those are mind-blowing numbers!

I don’t know about you, but that level  of decision-making power, or discernment, feels beyond me. Hard decisions start to feel impossible. I just don’t know enough, and even though modern technology overwhelms me with information. No wonder our friends in the psychology world talk so much about decision fatigue. It makes me tired just thinking about all the tiny choices I’ll make each day.

Figuring it out.


Researching… it’s all flat exhausting.

So what’s the alternative? Is there a better way?

Well, we can’t eliminate all our decisions. Some little things like what we’ll stir into our coffee will always be there, but we can roll the weight of our big decisions off of ourselves when we simply ask The One who knows.

When we exchange our own work for God’s wisdom, we discover that instead of finding answers, we start receiving them.

Thankfully, we have a beautiful example of a woman who received the answers she needed, and it’s woven into a Christmas story–perfect for this time of year! Mary was a young woman, wise beyond her years. She shows us four steps we can take when we’re tackling big changes in life. Let’s take a close look. (Although I’ll give excerpts here, I encourage you to open your Bible to Luke 1 to read the whole story.)

She Listened

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29).

When I’m troubled by something that’s come my way, I usually spring into “fix-it mode” or start talking incessantly. I’m a verbal processor after all, 🙂 but it’s not helpful.

Mary didn’t speak immediately. Mary “wondered” instead of talking. Word study tells me that the word “wondered” means “pondered or considered.” She waited for an explanation. She listened.

When faced with a dilemma or a decision, the first step is to wait and listen for the words of the Lord.

She Asked a Faith-Filled Question

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1: 34)

Early in Luke 1, we find out that Zechariah was struck speechless when he asked a doubt-filled question (Luke 1:18-19), so how do we know Mary’s question was different?

First, Gabriel’s response was different. Instead of quieting her, he answered her. I love this because it’s another instance that Scripture shows that asking God questions isn’t wrong. The Psalms are filled with David’s questions and Habakkuk, the prophet, was brimming with questions that God answered.

God is big enough for our questions, but how we ask is essential. From observing many, many scenes of questioning in Scripture, I see a dividing line. When we ask questions with open hands and hearts, seeing God as the source of all good answers, He comes near. Sometimes He answers, and sometimes He doesn’t. But He honors faith-filled questions. Only when we ask with fists clenched, leveling a question as an accusation or an expression of distrust, does God reject it.

We also know that Mary asked in faith because Elizabeth exclaims over her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her” (Luke 1:45).

Have questions and faith? Ask away! This is step two. You can trust God for His presence while you wait for answers.

She Sought Support

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40).

When we believe we’ve received the word of the Lord about a situation or decision, it’s important to confirm it in two ways:

  1. With Scripture– All truth is God’s truth, so it has to align with Scripture. If it doesn’t, then going back to listening is the next step.
  2. With wise council– If what you’ve heard lines up with Scripture, it’s still a good step to run it by a godly mentor.

I’m always curious about why Mary had to travel to reach the right support. The Bible doesn’t tell us (drat!), so we just have to trust that God guided Mary to Elizabeth. If you don’t have a godly mentor, ask God to guide you to the right person. Having several people whom I trust to confirm or redirect me has been a huge gift in my life.

She Responded to Confirmation with Praise

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1: 46-48).

Once God’s work in Mary’s life is confirmed, she erupts in praise. Let’s make this our response too! It’s the last step that caps a good decision.

Listening to God is crucial as we develop:

Tender Hearts. Strong Voices.

Before we make a hard decision, process a circumstance or take a stand on an issue, we need to listen to God.

We need to listen to Him for direction, but we also need to listen so that He can hold His Word up as a mirror–to show us our blind spots…to expose vulnerable places…to straighten deception…to heal wounds and eliminate bitterness. All those tasks can be accomplished if we’ll only listen– through Scripture, through prayer, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through asking faith-filled questions.

I’d love to hear from you about what struck you most about this series! What did you learn that you’re putting into practice as you listen to God?

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  1. I just read the 4 steps to follow when making a big decision. After my daughter died, I decided that my husband and I should move away to a different part of the country and heal in new surroundings. That didn’t actually work. Now that my husband has died, I do not know if I should stay where I am or move back to where my son lives and where I used to live.
    I used to fret over this decision, but then I decided to let it go for awhile and see what God has planned for me. I am waiting and listening, but nothing has happened yet. I am worried because I am a planner and a fixer and I don’t want my decision to be based on misconceptions or false visualizations.
    Perhaps, these four steps will help guide me when I finally hear from God.
    At least, now, I have something to use to help me make a very important decision. Thank you.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      I’m so sorry for your losses, Linda. My heart is with you in your grief, and I’m praying right now that God will lead and guide you to a place of healing.