Autonomy is the second step in the development of Emotional Maturity, remember? Let’s be reminded about what autonomy really is.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, autonomy is:
The quality or state of being self-governing; especially the right of self-government. It is the capacity to make an informed, un-coerced decision.
So let’s see, the last time I had to make a decision, well Ron and I together, was just yesterday. It was regarding the possible purchase of a small motorhome. Now don’t think it was a new one, because that’s a financial impossibility! It was a 1996 model. Why in the world, given the state of Ron’s health, would we even consider such an option?
– We used to have a bus – a 1967 GMC 4107 Buffalo Bus (You know, like a Greyhound Bus). For years we traveled North America in that bus, doing seminars on an itinerary. Sometimes we would be gone several months at a time. Thanks to some precious friends, that bus was “gutted” and redone on the inside, making it into a very comfortable “home.”
– Often now either Ron or I will say “I miss the bus!” It’s true, we really do! It had a very comfortable bed, was attractive to look at, had an efficient kitchen, and we felt cozy in it.
– We thought: Maybe it would be good for us to get out of the house and travel a bit, so we would have new vistas to see, new experiences to enjoy, it would cheer us up a bit and it would give us the comfort of our cozy bus.
– We saw one for sale, and every time we went by it, one of us would exclaim: “I miss the bus!”
So we finally stopped. We copied down the seller’s phone number and made a call. They would be happy to show it to us. So we made a date!
The motorhome was lovely! Cozy, roomy, fully functional, etc. and we so wanted that motorhome! So how to get Ron in and out of it; would the passenger seat be comfortable for him; would the bed work well, and how about the bathroom?
While getting him out of the motorhome was arduous at best, we thought of ways to accomplish it with a few minor adjustments. So we came home to talk about it and make a decision. I remember praying, “Lord, please show us! Our desire for it is great, but what about me driving, and for how long will Ron be able to get in and out. Can we afford the insurance, the fuel, the upkeep, etc.?”
So we sat down with a piece of paper and started a list:
We began the list and soon had several PROS. Internally we were getting more and more excited. We even figured out how we could make the purchase, IF the sellers would agree to our offer. Then came the insurance and the upkeep and the ability to pay for fuel, since the motorhome got only 10 mpg. Then the CONS began to add up. As the hour went by, I noticed Ron becoming weaker and overtired. I
wondered what it would be like in the motorhome to manage when he wasn’t at his optimum. Soon we went to bed to “sleep on it.”
Next morning, we had both come to the same conclusion: Do not buy the bus! Are we disappointed? YES we are, as we would love to be able to go to Phoenix for a few weeks to visit with lots of friends, but some things just aren’t possible. We decided to do day trips around New Mexico, then do an overnite in a motel once in a while so we could manage longer distances, and perhaps we can work our way up to the trip to Phoenix.
AUTONOMY: the ability to make an informed non-coerced decision. Some time ago, we learned to make a decision with pen and paper in hand, creating a list of Pros and Cons. It works! But in addition, Ron and I believe deeply in a Savior, to whom we can turn for the ultimate advice, since He can see the end from the beginning. Confident that He would guide us, we slept well and were pleased in the morning that we had come to the same conclusion.
When was the last time you had to make a weighty decision? How did you do it? Did you ask for counsel or Divine Guidance? Were you able to make a list (physical or mental) of pros and cons? Did you allow these things to guide you to make an adult, appropriate decision?
We make decisions every day: what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do that day, etc. Occasionally, when overtired, for us it is fun to just stay in our PJ’s all day (at this stage we can do that) or we can decide to go out for a bite to eat rather than “slaving” over a stove. These are minor decisions. Most of us have to decide weightier matters such as: who to date, who to marry, where to live, where to work, what church to attend, etc., and these have more significant consequences than whether to eat in or out. Can you make these decisions? Have you? With what results?
Folk who have trouble trying to decide on simple things or even more complicated choices, find themselves confused, frustrated and overwhelmed and often make an unhealthy choice. These are they who do not consider cause to effect because they do not understand the concept. Remember, autonomy begins development between ages 18 months to 3 years of age. They may well be stuck in their emotional development and need the assistance of wiser individuals to make an appropriate decision.
Where are you in your decision-making ability? This is a very appropriate question to ask yourself. If you have difficulty deciding, ask yourself if your parents made all your decisions for you. Are they still? Do you make your choices based on what your parents would approve of, or on the basic principles of what is right or wrong, morally appropriate or immoral?
We would love to hear from you, so after you consider where you are emotionally, make the choice to contact us with a note (to be published on the website or not – without your name, of course.) Your willingness to share may well be a major blessing to someone else. God Bless you as you work through this!