Paralysis by Analysis

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love hepredestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. – Ephesians 1:3-6

Ever spend too much time standing in the closet trying to decide what to wear?  Ever stand in the aisle of a store comparing two or three similar items, unable to decide which one you should purchase?  Ever sit down at your desk at work to begin a busy day and find yourself unable to decide which of the dozens of tasks you should do first?  Or my personal favorite, ever have someone tell you they’re so hungry that they could eat anything but they don’t care what restaurant they go to, but then not offer any options while declining your suggestions?  (If you know someone like this and are thinking of showing them this blog post, please understand that I take no responsibility in what happens to you).

“Paralysis by Analysis” or whatever cute and clever name you wish to call it can really be a detriment to someone trying to reach a goal.  We often complain when we are not given options to choose but yet once we have options we struggle make the choice.  Now when it comes to restaurants, earrings, and neckties this can be a bit frustrating but not life altering.  However, this same difficulty can create major difficulties when applied to the most important areas of our lives.

I have found that indecision is particularly damaging when it comes to love and relationships.  People who waffle, who hesitate, or who struggle with clearly establishing the choice they have made to love through their daily lives will have more difficulty establishing, developing, and ultimately enjoying a their relationships.  Indecision needlessly complicates life and suffocates love.  To illustrate this, I will once again turn to one of the greatest love stories of all-time: Forrest Gump (I know, just humor me once again).

When you compare Forrest and Jenny, you see how their approaches to decision making impacted their lives.  Forrest progressed from one thing to the next; never getting too high or too low.  He made a choice, stuck to it, and moved forward with a sense of purpose and security in that choice.  Jenny was more free-flowing in her choices and often found herself having to deal with the consequences of a previous decision.  Her life was filled with ups and downs and the instability took its toll.  This is most evident in the love they “shared.”  Established through friendship at an early age, Forrest developed a love for Jenny that was lifelong, simple, solid, and for the most part, unrequited.  Some might look at Forrest’s love for Jenny and say that more than anything else proves just how stupid he really was.  Why put up with this?  Why hold on to a love that has lasted for so long without any return or any assurance that one will ever come?  The answer is as simple as the character: that was his choice.  Forrest made up his mind that he loved Jenny; that she was his girl, end of story.  Nothing could ever change that.  It didn’t matter where they were, what they did, how much they saw each other or how deeply she hurt him, he never lost focus on the love he had for her.  This is best demonstrated in this exchange near the end of the film:

Jenny Curran: Were you scared in Vietnam?
Forrest Gump: Yes. Well, I-I don’t know. Sometimes it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out… and then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou. There was always a million sparkles on the water… like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny, it looked like there were two skies one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It’s so beautiful.
Jenny Curran: I wish I could’ve been there with you.
Forrest Gump: You were.

Jenny and Forrest have married.  For her, the marriage was another decision: Forrest was the biological father of her son and the best person to raise him now that she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  For him, it was the culmination of a decision to love Jenny made decades earlier.  What makes this all the more touching is that his choice to love Jenny not only comes to manifestation in his life, but she too is finally able to receive the benefits from his diligence in holding on to the choice he made because the next thing she says and the last thing she says in the movie is the one thing Forrest has waited a lifetime to hear, “I love you, Forrest.”

Forrest’s love is a simple and imperfect example of what it must be like when God looks at us.  He loves us by His own choice and certainly not for anything we might have done to deserve it.  His choice was made long ago and it has not changed, nor will it.  He has done everything necessary for us to be able to live in love with Him.  Of course, like Jenny we complicate things.  We try to make things bigger and more difficult than they need to be and as a result we face consequences for our bad choices and our indecision.  But even then, God has given us forgiveness through Christ and renewal by the Holy Spirit so that we too may come to benefit by the decision He made on our behalf. 

May the love of God live and grow in your heart so that His perfect work may be made complete in our lives and in the decision we make through Him.

About day1of1

Author, Speaker, Educator, Husband, Father of two and follower of the One.
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2 Responses to Paralysis by Analysis

  1. leeleegirl4 says:

    This is quite an interesting way to look at faith and trust. Forrest never wavers, never doubts. We all could learn to do with a little more of both these qualities.

    • day1of1 says:

      I agree Lee – I recently led a Bible study using this comparison. Forrest is simple but it’s in simplicity that he finds peace and avoids so much of the stress and frustrations of life that so many of us face. Thanks for commenting!

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