Now What?

Now What?

“It’s always something” as Mom used to say. A simple mishap of exiting the train in Amsterdam at the wrong stop resulted in Jim and me exchanging bewildering looks and silently thinking the same thing-- “Now What”? and hoping someone in that scant group of riders would recognize confused foreigners needing direction in re-winding our route. Somehow, we got out of that scrape.

So, it is with much more serious dilemmas and troublesome circumstances. Without notice or fanfare, setbacks in finances, health, loss of loved ones, relationships drive us into dead ends that could not have been avoided, consequently slowing us down mentally, physically and spiritually, causing us to breathe the question “Now What?” to our companions, friends or maybe just to ourselves. Even children who endure gnarly problems and setbacks with friends and siblings present dead-giveaway facades.

“Sounds like a rerun of Jim Ward’s ‘How ‘Bout That’” some of you might remind.  But the difference is that ‘Now What’ solutions depend on serious Head and Heart decision-making where Jim’s solutions faced milder emergency problems for which he projected time-delays, repairs and money. Then, it was over.

Finding the best solutions to ‘Now What’ situations demands Head-Logic as well as Heart-Logic decision-making—Heart Logic for harmony’s sake and Head-Logic for facts, figures and common sense focusing on doing what is best and right involving those who will be affected no matter how it feels.

Review: Head-logic Thinkers—60% male and 40% female--are capable of making difficult decisions without involving feelings; Heart-logic people—60% female and 40% male—when obligated to make difficult decisions, Feelers must temporarily set their feeling preference aside. When finding a solution in Amsterdam, we blended my possibility Intuition preference and Jim’s Head-logic, practical preference.

For decades, society has assumed that all men are logical thinkers and all women are softhearted and feeling.  Marriage counseling reveals that Thinking men often choose Feeler mates and Heart-logic softhearted men regularly choose Thinking women. Not always. Opposites very often attract, but what attracts you to someone in the first place, tends to drive you up a wall later.  Jim and I were not complete opposites but differed in two areas--fact gathering preferences and in decision-making.  He appreciated my gift of Intuition with the ability to look way ahead, plan and spot possible problems. But he had difficulty with my Feeling preference which put maintaining harmony before his common sense.

I remember well a conversation when Jim’s Head Logic and my Heart Logic locked horns frustrating Jim to the point that he declared, “You can’t feel that way”, to which I replied, “I didn’t ask to be designed to be a feeler, but I know it was not a mistake on God’s part. Feeling decisions can’t always be wrong or inferior.” That’s what it took to convince Jim that Feeler heart logic requiring more discussion-time was legitimate rather than just plain weakness.  And I learned that Head-Logic, what I considered cold, hard decisions were actually the most practical and best most of the time. That was a major improvement in our understanding thanks to the MBTI Personality Indicator.  Then, Jim took that information and included it in sermons where he encouraged Feelers—men and women— “When you feel a little bit mean and selfish, you’re about right.” That message is still encouraging Feelers to this day.

Now that I am the principal decision-maker, I am thankful for Jim teaching me the wisdom of Head-Logic decisions, and I endeavor now to emulate how he would decide a particular instance. He thought through facts and figures before making a decision but doing research and looking way ahead was not easy for him. Jim and I also took time to pray about big decisions, always wanting our decisions to be pleasing to God.  We put off difficult final decisions until we both had peace. Now, when I have a costly ‘Now What’ decision to make, after I write down the pros and cons and think and pray about it for a while, I’ll run it by one of the trusted thinkers in my family or friends.

What we are thinking twines around every person and situation and whether our decision leads to sadness or joy. A little book on my bookshelf titled “As a Man Thinketh” caught my eye, so I pulled it down to see whose it was and what it was about. It is a Hallmark edition by James Allen.  A penciled message inside the book reads: “To Rev. Jim Ward, For your wonderful down-to-earth messages during the (3) days of our Revival. May you be blessed in all that you do—Apr. 24/25/26, 1970 from Doris Heefner, Chambersburg Baptist. Please come back.” There was a note inside, as well: “May you accept this small gift as my appreciation for having you at Chambersburg Baptist.  It was truly a blessing having you here.  May your life be enriched by being here.  Hello to your wife, Ruth. Tell her “Mission Friends” has grown from 3-8 through the workshop she led and we missed her and the family.” I wonder if Jim ever opened that book. I don’t remember ever reading those lovely notes and I know I didn’t read the book because nothing was underlined and no notes were made.

It’s a good little book which uses Prov. 23:7 As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” as a launching pad, but he doesn’t really encourage heart-based thinking as much as encouraging people to create their own character, happiness and success.

The idea continues: Thinking becomes: Today we are where our thoughts have taken us and we are the architects for better or worse.  The author takes for granted that a person has complete control over his/her thoughts. Unfortunately, that is not possible. We all need help in learning how to think wisely. Just because something sounds reasonable and right doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.  We have to compare what we think with what others who are wiser and more experienced have learned.

The author says that as a man thinketh is a spontaneous/deliberate thought-action of which joy/suffering are the fruits.  Noble character comes from continued effort in right thinking from our armory of thought. Sounds simple, natural and normal at first, but what I’ve picked up from reading, observing, studying and listening to speakers who know far more than I do, that right thinking emerges over the years through maturity as a result of study, meditation, prayer, trial, error and experiences.  Interestingly, that was one of the subjects that Dr. Gresham impressed upon the seminary students as they came for counseling and he shared those views with Jim when he’d come by the office.

Now What? situations tend to crowd our mental attitudes as they keep rolling in. And what we all know is that what worked to solve a problem yesterday may not work at all today because everything, it seems, is changing or disappearing completely. What we know that doesn’t change, is our need for godly wisdom. We have to choose right thinking, fair, open, considered all pulled from our reservoir of experience or inner impressions of who or what has influenced our inner desires.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7 (NIV)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good reputation, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. Phil. 4:8-9 (NIV).

He is before all things and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:17 (NIV).

Thank you, Lord, for holding us together. Amen