Recently I have noticed again and again that all the decisions I had to make were not really my own decisions. Whenever there was a dilemma, I just left it in abeyance and—without really consciously dealing with it intensively—let it grow toward the clarity of a decision. But this clarity is not so much intellectual as it is instinctive. The decision is made; whether one can adequately justify it retrospectively is another question. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from a 1928 entry in his diary, quoted in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
I’ve been working my way through this long but excellent Bonhoeffer biography when this particular quote stuck out at me. Bonhoeffer here describes a decision-making process that I recognize quite well because it very closely resembles my own experience.
Perhaps claiming that one’s decision-making process isn’t conscious or necessarily intellectually justifiable isn’t something to be proud of. Or maybe there are processes floating around in the back of my brain that are chewing on the question and preparing a decision that I’m simply not aware of. Regardless, Bonhoeffer’s words ring true to me. Indeed, I could point to any number of decisions I’ve made in the past 20 years that I made not because I had a justifiable point-by-point rationale, but rather because my “gut feel” said that it was the right decision. And, by and large, that “gut feel” usually turns out to be right.
A decade later, Bonhoeffer would talk again about this decision-making process as being “grasped” by God, and that God was leading him in that way, and sometimes where he himself preferred not to go.
I’m not for a moment here trying to claim to be the spiritual or intellectual equal of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But I’m encouraged to be reminded that God is working and leading as I let choices stew and then go with my “instinctual” decision. Does this “gut feel” decision-making scheme ring true to any of you?