What “Rock, Paper, Scissors” Can Teach Us About Making Life Choices.

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An odd memory tickled my brain early this morning. Once upon a time (in the late 90’s), there was a website that allowed you to challenge others to a game of “Rock, Scissors, Paper” via email. A friend and I engaged in several rounds of the game, and at some point I got it into my head that I was going to choose “rock” for every challenge. Over and over, I clicked the rock….chuckling to myself (and thinking that I was being clever and funny) as my opponent went through the process of discovering that was the move that I was routinely playing. Now and then he would play a move other than paper, anticipating that eventually I would play something else to catch him off guard. However, I waited until he stopped playing anything but paper (and was obviously displaying frustration that I kept sending him challenges when I was not going to play anything but the same move), and then I finally challenged him one last time…. and played scissors. I won. So, what does this teach us? Well, firstly, it indicates that I was once very young and annoying, and perhaps lucky that said friend did not strangle me…….but it might also represent elements to be found when approaching life choices.

Ultimately “Rock, Paper, Scissors” is a strategic game of choices, and although the actual game itself appears to be simple, it actually involves many of the same thought processes that we use when making major choices for ourselves. When playing RPS, we watch for patterns….we try to anticipate what the other person will do, and thus what our best options are to be the victor. Sometimes we try to control the game by plotting ways to deceive and manipulate the other player so that ultimately we can surprise them, and win. And yet, many claim that the best way to play the game is to avoid analyzing or plotting, and to simply trust that letting go, and playing at random will be what will ultimately create the most wins— because the other person will be stumped with the lack of pattern to aid them in their own combative strategies.

When we make life choices, many of us try to analyze all elements to the situation to try to aid us. We strive to anticipate what others will do, what choices will have the best outcomes for us, and what possible negative results could occur if we take certain actions. Other times, we may plot, plan, and try to line things-up in a way that will lead to, or even force the results that we hope for…..even if it might lead to manipulating others, and practicing deception to get the outcome that we desire. However, how does the “random” RPS strategy equate in real life?  Faith. Trusting that God will guide us, and learning how to flow with that trust, and not force things due to thinking we know what is best, or because we are too impatient to wait for God’s answers and timing.

Rationally, it can appear at first glance that carefully weighing all elements to a situation is the best way to make choices (it is the course that I usually take)—this typically is true, because it at least prevents rushing into big mistakes impulsively based-off of temporary feelings or various other fragile elements…..however, it can also sometimes have the reverse issue of holding us back. At times we can be almost too careful, and get so wrapped-up in “this or that could go wrong”, that it prevents us from even making a choice, let alone “winning” at things, or finding peace and enjoyment in life. We can become our own stumbling block that prevents us from making choices, or we may even make choices that are fear-based that eventually lead us in the wrong direction.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. — Phillippians 4:6

Essentially, the above scripture teaches that we should avoid being overly careful or anxious….but instead, we should take everything (choices and trials) to God through prayer with a thankful, open mind-set and attitude. My interpretation on the “thanksgiving” is a reminder to approach prayer from a place of open gratitude, rather than with a stressful anxious mind that may not be able to hear, or receive anything through all of the inner commotion. It is about silencing our worries, our desires, and striving to have faith that Heavenly Father knows what is best, and that we have to sometimes let go of all of our intricate analyzing to allow room for him to guide, and have a hand in our lives.

   As for plotting? Oh how we strategize, and even twist things in order to “win” or get what we want. Sometimes we try to take the steering wheel, and turn it in the direction towards things that ultimately will not be good for us. We want to believe that we know what is best, and force things into the results that we want. Even though we might be able to do/get something, and even achieve what we desire, it doesn’t mean that we will result in truly “winning” (such as young me who “won” at the cost of aggravating a friend in a very negative way). There is always the possibility that if we manipulate things to get the outcomes that we desire, that it could actually be something that was not even meant for us in the first place (especially if we had to be deceptive in any form to achieve it). Our tactics can result in lying to others (and even to our own selves), or doing things such as pretending to be someone else, or claiming that we have interests, or skills that we do not…all in the effort to achieve a relationship, a job etc… Even though they may seem to be tactics that are excusable because they are done as a means to gain something “good”, in reality nothing that is truly right, or meant for us should require any kind of force or deception to achieve it. Additionally, at some point those deceptions will become known, and likely cause problems—-typically the loss of whatever was achieved via those deceptive practices.

Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord–Proverbs 19: 2-3

   So, the message in the first verse ( as I see it), is that it is not advised for us to allow ourselves to let our judgment get clouded, and to grab that steering wheel and force it down the road we want—especially if we have not received knowledge or answers that demonstrate that it is truly the direction we should go in ( or if we do it despite possibly having received indication that it is not what is best). It is acting on our own will…and though that is our right and choice, it does not necessarily mean that it will fit with what Heavenly Father would want for us. Compare it to when a child decides to not listen to, or take the advice of a parent due the assumption that they know what is better….even if they do not have enough experience or knowledge to fully understand what it is they are doing, and ultimately would fair better if they did listen and take that parental guidance.

   As for, “he that hasteth with his feet sinneth“, I personally think that it is a warning that rushing into choices could result in mistakes, especially when we do so on our own ambitions (without spiritual guidance/ knowledge). I personally have seen this demonstrated many times in my own choices, and also that of friends, clients etc… Typically, the needful inner voice that pushes us to race and rush indicates the desire to “cinch” something before anything could ruin it, get in the way etc… even if it is running form the simple tap of truth and reality that could eventually catch-up to the situation, and pop the fantasy bubble. Any urgent need to dive-in and make something happen fast is the sign of something within us knowing that what we are doing might not be right, or could change/ be lost if we give it time….so we have to make it happen quickly before anything can make it fall apart. The truth is, anything that we truly know is right should result in us having a sense of calm and trust that no matter how much time is given, that it will happen, and be there for us….that we do not have to rush, push, or force it into happening. It is akin to building something with snow, and wanting to rush it into form before the sun will come out and melt it…..as if that somehow will prevent the inevitable outcome. However, if we take time, if we follow guidance, and if we feel truly secure in our choice and plans…. then we have the time to build a solid foundation of sturdy bricks without the fear that something can easily destroy, or take it away from us. So, we must learn to watch for our own inner warning lights when we feel the need to quickly make something happen, as well as when anyone else tries to grab us up into their sprint towards an expeditious destination.

   Proverbs 19:3 indicates that it is through our own foolishness and desires that we can come to negative paths and results. The word “perverteth” hits me strongly, because it represents corrupting or twisting something to alter it’s original course or purpose—in sense, it is speaking of perhaps not only going against guidance, but even distorting things to make ourselves believe that we are acting on what God wants us to do, when in fact it is allowing our own desires to dominate, and misuse any promptings from the spirit to justify our actions, and what it is that we want. The danger in telling ourselves that we are acting on spiritual promptings ( when we are not), is that when things eventually lead to disastrous results, it then is all to easy to put the blame on having been guided incorrectly, and somehow betrayed (“his heart fretteth against the Lord”). We might even feel anger, and a loss of faith because instead of a blessing, we were given an extreme hardship….when in reality, we were acting on our own wishes, and created our own path out of “foolishness”… instead of truly listening, and receiving—-especially if it was because we did not want to hear, or follow an answer that revealed something other than what we wanted.

   Making choices is hard. It especially can be difficult if we pray, but feel we are not getting answers, or maybe are even hearing a small voice that goes against what we are hoping for the answer to be. We simply need to have patience for things to truly be revealed, and come to recognize the signs of things that point towards letting our ambitions lead us astray —rushing/impatience, using deception, rationalizations or justifications, and anything that moves us on a path that goes against what we know is right/ true…..or away from God himself. They sound like basic guidelines, but they are what will help us to keep our feet moving in the right directions. We have to learn to be self-aware, and honest with ourselves. Sometimes it is not just about having faith, patience, trust…and being able to receive spiritual promptings. It is also about being able to recognize when we have not received guidance, and when we truly are just racing towards our own desires.

   When we make selfish choices, or gain things through any form of deception….we will have to carry that weight and knowledge with us, which in a way taints whatever it is that we have achieved. We cannot truly be at happy, or at peace if we know deep down that something was gained through wrongful means. However, when we are honest and open, and make choices that are both spirit-led and healthy for us (without anything we have to conceal)….. that is when we truly can experience peace, and assurance that we have made the right choices.

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