by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

I never discuss how I plan to vote in an election, nor do I reveal how I voted. Probably to the shock of my mother, I’m about to make an exception to my rule of thumb. For the record (and for my mom’s benefit), I consider myself a “moderate” American and consequently never vote a straight party ticket. When it comes to presidents, I have voted for every party possible during my 30-year voting record. My daughter calls me “an extreme nonpartisan.” She’s probably right.

President Gerald Ford’s passing has compelled me — as it has many others — to recall how his brief tenure in the office of president impacted my life.

He was the first presidential candidate to get my vote. It wasn’t a vote for a political party, nor was it a vote against the other candidate. For me, 18 years old and a freshman in college, it was a vote honoring the courage to do what was right, even if it was an unpopular decision. Since apparently only history sees the wisdom of such courage, I should not have been surprised when my presidential candidate lost the election.

At a time when many Americans became dismayed with the leadership in our country, I was reassured. Although I knew President Nixon had engaged in wrongdoing and illegal activities, I agreed with President Ford’s decision to pardon him. I didn’t have any basis for my agreement at that time, other than my enormous respect for President Ford. I felt that he could not be persuaded from acting on his highest sense of right — a good practice, I’ve discovered, in decision making.

No doubt, most of us have had to make, or will make, some difficult decisions in our lifetimes. I’ve read that a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. I’ve come to see every decision I’m confronted with as just that — an opportunity.

My best suggestion for getting advice on making a good decision is to take your opportunity to your Father-Mother God. He is also the best source for any courage required.

It turns out God already has equipped each of us with the spiritual sense needed for making good decisions. The apostle Paul wrote, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7). This “sound mind,” or spiritual sense, must surely include fairness, wisdom, compassion and integrity. If we utilize our spiritual sense in making decisions, we will be prompted toward right thinking and consequently make decisions that are not only good for us but good for all whom our decisions touch.

Living in a family of pilots all of my married life inspires what has been a helpful decision-making analogy for me. For any flight, a pilot considers and plans the best possible course of travel. But a good pilot is always prepared for the unexpected and ready to change course accordingly. It does no good and probably would lead to disastrous results if a pilot was so shocked by an unexpected storm in her path that she didn’t change her course and flew right into the storm. Or imagine a pilot faced with inclement weather. She becomes frustrated, disappointed or depressed that she has to change course and travel a path different from the route she had planned and so remains in a circling pattern. If she circles long enough going nowhere, the plane will run out of gas!

So I’ve learned there’s no need to avoid making decisions. The sooner decisions are made, the sooner I can continue moving forward on my life journey. At times, I’ve thought a change of course indicated a mistake in my initial decision. But now I realize that sometimes what’s right in one moment is not right in the next, and that’s OK. Trusting my highest sense of right in every circumstance has helped direct me to the best course of action.

I try to see all decisions as opportunities — never as difficulties that are too tough or hard, unexpected or unwanted. Keeping myself flexible and open to face whatever opportunities come my way has led to my greatest success stories.

Spiritual sense and seeking the divine perspective for every decision assure a powerful presence in consciousness that can lead and guide all of us in the best direction possible.