When I was 17, I found my first job at an ice cream parlor, and I loved it. The employees got to eat as much free ice cream as they wanted—at least, that’s what my 19-year-old supervisor told me. So, of course, I ate it. A lot of it. I loved ice cream, and I still do. But there were some things about the job I didn’t love. Having to be there at a certain time and stay for the whole shift seemed suffocating to a free-spirited (and, arguably, lazy) teenager. I also didn’t love smelling like a sack of sour milk at the end of each workday. How something so right could smell so wrong was a complete mystery to me.
The shop I worked for was known for its 31 flavors of ice cream. Each customer handled differently the decision of which flavor to choose. Sometimes people came into the store and knew just what they wanted. Others walked slowly back and forth, staring at each flavor, tasting each in their minds before they made a choice. Some would ask for recommendations, while others hemmed and hawed until everyone else had ordered, never able to make up their minds.
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There was a little-known option that our store offered (I heard about this option from my 19-year-old supervisor, too): For the price of a single scoop of ice cream, you could have a taste of all 31 flavors. I’d seen only one person exercise this option, and it was quite a sight. The woman had a flavor in mind, but she couldn’t make a decision, so, to help narrow down the choices, she opted to try all of them. She experienced a rainbow of taste, loving the chocolate and hating the sherbet. By the end of the 31-flavor parade, it was time for her to decide. The poor woman was so full from all the samples that she left without ordering a full scoop of the flavor she had initially thought she wanted. She left feeling full but not satisfied.
I thought of this experience when I had a big decision to make. I had many options before me, but in the end I needed to choose one. How could I choose? Which would it be?
Choosing Between Good and Good
I tried the method of mentally walking down each path, imagining the different outcomes in my mind. None of them seemed undesirable—in fact, each of them had its advantages. That made it more difficult. Making a decision can be so much easier when one result is obviously bad and the other positively good—but this choice wasn’t like that. It was a choice between good or good or good or good. I’ll admit, it was tempting to skip the decision-making process altogether, but I knew that then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the possible outcomes.
I knew I had to pick something—I had to choose a path. But I was overwhelmed by the choices. I thought back to my ice cream parlor job once again. Sometimes when the customers couldn’t decide, I would talk with them about the kinds of things they liked and didn’t like and make a recommendation based on their preferences. I was confident in my ability to guide them because I, of course, had tasted every flavor in the store—most of them more than once. Most of the time, the customers loved my recommendations and were grateful for the outside help.
As I made my decision, I knew that I, too, had an outside source who could educate me about my choices—Heavenly Father.
Seeking God’s Recommendations
Our Father in Heaven is the ultimate guide; He is the definitive resource to help us define our wants and our needs. He already knows all the choices before us—He may have placed them there. He expects us to do our part to make the most responsible, reasonable, and righteous decision. And He will help us do that. When we are torn between two choices or when we struggle to make the right one, He is the source to whom we should turn for direction.
I knew I would never experience the fullness of anything if I didn’t choose a path, and, because I was not sure of myself, I asked for a recommendation. I turned to God and asked Him what He thought I should do. I had faith that He wanted me to be happy. I had the knowledge that He loved me. I had the hope that He would answer me. I had the peace of knowing I could ask Him. I had the joy of knowing that I was not alone.
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So I prayed, and as I listened to the promptings of the Spirit, I was led to a decision that I felt was right. Then, after I made my final choice, I took the decision back to Him in prayer and received a confirmation that it was right.
Growth comes not necessarily from having many choices but from making the right choices. You can’t enjoy the ice cream until you taste it, and you can’t get the full experience unless you have a full scoop. God has given us the mind and the heart to make choices. He expects us to measure and weigh things out and do the best we can. When we need to make a decision, we can turn to Him for help and guidance. Through the Holy Ghost, He can gently and lovingly guide us down the path that is best for us. If we listen to and follow those promptings, we will make the right choice.
As we live the commandments and become more like our Father, our choices will begin to be more in line with the choices He would make for us. Our confidence in our decisions and our ability to make better decisions will grow stronger. The paths to choose will become more clear. We will become more like Him.
I still visit that ice cream parlor often. I was there recently with my youngest daughter. Her eyes grew wide as she looked at the rows and rows of different ice cream flavors.
“Which one do you want?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied, her eyes fixed on the sea of frozen deliciousness before her. “You love ice cream, so I’ll have what you are having, ’cuz I know you’re gonna pick a good one.”
I smiled to myself. I had been there enough to try all the flavors, and, yes, I knew what was good. I also knew her well enough to know what she would love.
We left a few minutes later, a chocolate fudge ice cream cone in my hand, a bubble gum cone in hers. We were both happy and, oh, so satisfied.
Being Confident in Your Choice
When we struggle with our confidence and self-perception, we often feel as though we don’t have many choices, that our options are limited. The truth of the matter is that the only thing that is limited is our perspective. When we gain God’s perspective, we begin to see the bounty of opportunities before us. We can go back to school, we can write a book, we can learn to sew, we can make new friends, we can develop a talent, we can reach out of our former comfort zone for a dream we never thought was possible.
Listen to His recommendations through the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the words of others you trust, or that feeling inside of you that peacefully yet firmly draws you toward one choice more than others. Then make a choice, and go for it! Forget about feeling self-conscious in the eyes of man—be confident in the eyes of God. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Do it for yourself. Do it for Him. Have faith in yourself, because He has faith in you.
Read more about leading a life of confidence in Michelle Wilson's book, Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.