A Tale of Two Voices

Had an interesting dialogue with myself on the trail today… ever have conversations with yourself or am I the only one?!!

It was cool and misty at 8:15 this morning as I laced up my shoes to go for a nice trail run in Aliso Woods Canyon. Was supposed to be an easy 13. I’ve been starting to log some longer miles to get ready for “who knows what event I’m doing next”. Truth be told, running trails is a sanctuary for me. I love being out in nature, free from noise and distractions. As long as I have water and food I’m good.

So off I went this morning. Had my fuel belt with water bottles filled up. My food for today was none other than peanut butter & strawberry jam. Love my PB&J!!! I had enough water and food to be out for just about 2 hours.

As I started out on my familiar route, one voice in me said “lets go and explore a new trail”. The other voice said “it’s on the way to the park entrance where we usually start so it’s no big deal, let’s do it”

So off I went exploring a new trail. As I was nearing the end of this trail I saw another trail shoot out to the left with a nice short, steep climb to a small summit. One voice said “let’s go”, the other said “the path is well worn singletrack (narrow trail), so yes, let’s do it”.

To the top of the hill I went. As I looked down into the valley below, I could see the park entrance. No idea how to get there since there was no path down the hill. I could also see another path I had never seen before. It ran parallel to the one I usually run on, but somehow this one seemed secluded. There was no one on it, the other path I normally take I could see runners and mountain bikers all over it.

Hmmmm, one path is empty, secluded and I would be the only one on it. Scenery looks better too. The other path, has lots of people on it. I gotta do the new path! It was like it was calling out to me.

But how do I get there? There was no way down the hill to get to it. I looked and looked. There was heavy dry brush that would be really hard to navigate and would scratch the heck out of my legs. What to do, what to do…. Then I saw it!

I could carve a new path around the heavy brush, then there was a stretch of not-so-thick grass I could go through where there seemed to be a very faint path where someone else walked. That was it, I could get there! I could accomplish my mission and had to do it. Would be a fun adventure.

Felt like a little kid again. Full of excitement and adventure!!

Smiling, almost giggling, I set off.

Then the other voice kicked in “You know Chris, the grass is thick there, you don’t know what’s underneath it. Could be ticks, maybe deer ticks with lyme disease. Or worse, you could step on a den of rattlesnakes. Better not go. Better go back and get on the familiar path and play it safe. Don’t want to get hurt you know”

… hmmm, good points, I thought. He’s right. Maybe I should go back. What was I thinking? Oh well.

Then the other voice chimed in “hey! Let’s go!!!! I want to go this way. It’s gonna be a great adventure!! Let’s go!”

…. hmmm, good point. I did want to go! And I needed to resolve it, since both voices made excellent points.

So how did I resolve it? What did I do?

I decided it was time to have a meeting. I brought the two voices together (seriously, you could make a good case that I’m a certifiable nut job at this point! Am I the only one that has ever had this happen to them??!)

I asked the excited voice why he wanted to go. “Because there’s a new, really cool looking trail. We will be the only one on it. Who knows what we will see!! It’s going to be a great adventure. Let’s go!”

I asked the conservative, safe voice why he thought we shouldn’t go. “Because there could be danger there. Ticks. Snakes. You don’t have your phone with you. If you fall and break your leg, smash your head on a rock, or get bitten by a snake it could be game over”

…. good points on both sides.

I asked the excited voice if he would be ok if we didn’t go if it was deemed unwise. His response was a hesitant “yes”. I asked the conservative, safe, fearful voice if he would help us if we went that way and he said “yes”. Then I asked for his wisdom. “Could we make it down there? – yes. Is this something we have done before? – yes. Is it likely there are ticks in the brush? – no. The grass we would have to walk through, it’s short, there appears to be a set of footprints through it, it’s cold and damp, is it likely there will be snakes there? – no”

I gathered all the data. Thought it through. And in my final anaylsis, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. To go down there.

Both voices cooperated. Both voices were needed as there were some tricky spots to navigate. And low and behold, we made it!

By the way, on this new (to me), secluded and almost private path, I saw many wonderful things I would have never seen…

  • I saw deer. The deer and I were within 10 feet of each other. Neither moving. Simply checking each other out. (I also came across a family of deer later on, momma, daddy and baby. The buck had a nice big set of antlers on him).
  • I saw a really cool owl. About 5 feet away from him. We just checked each other out for a bit before I went on my way.
  • I saw a primitive looking “Man vs. Wild” shelter by a hidden part of a stream. The adventurer in me was feeling very refreshed at this time!

None of this I expected. It was a very pleasant surprise. The trail was simply beautiful.

Don’t go off and draw a conclusion that I saw all this because I took the path less traveled. That would be unwise. I never would have taken this path if it would have been deemed too dangerous and silly. No, I’m not into stupidity (got most of that out of me in my 20’s!!).

Here’s the moral of the story…

When facing a tough decision in life, it’s good to listen to the two voices. You need the one to look for opportunities. You need the other to make wise decisions. Don’t be foolish and only listen to one and tune the other out. If you do, you will miss out on wonderful opportunities or you will make foolish, stupid decision you will regret for years to come.

Here’s the process I use to make decisions:

  1. Pray
  2. Search the Bible to see what it says (seeking wisdom)
  3. Consult people with expertise and perspective I don’t have. Including my wife since she can see my blind spots – just wish I listened to her earlier in life, would have saved me from some painful situations. (again seeking wisdom) There is safety in a multitude of counselors.
  4. Decide what I want while checking to make sure my motives are right and not self glorifying.
  5. I prayerfully consider all the data and do my final analysis. Then I decide and take action.

I have made many decisions in my life. Some good, others I would take back in an instant. As each page on the calendar is flipped, I have resolved to be wiser and more audacious. Isn’t that how you truly have a full life and fulfill your mission?

How do you make your decisions?

Would love to hear your take on this.


2 replies
  1. Alicia Franklin-Edwards
    Alicia Franklin-Edwards says:

    Hey Chris,

    Your 5-point method is God’s blueprint for making wise decisions. We can’t fail when we do things His way. I’ve found that it is especially important to seek counsel from those around us because of their objectivity. Although we pray for God’s will, many times we already have a desired outcome and our natural tendency is to move towards what we want. The other key is being willing to not only hear, but also follow the wisdom of others despite ourselves.



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