life beyond the 51/49 principle

The 51/49 principle. That’s what my daddy calls it – the not so scientific (much less highly spiritual) approach to making decisions.

Your gut leanings . . . 51% in one direction; 49% in the other. When in doubt, go with the 51%.

When making smaller decisions, the 51/49 principle seems to carry less weight. When making larger decisions (those choices involving critical, life paths)? Well, the 51/49 principle is a bit harder to digest. Personally, I prefer the 99/1 principle when choosing a critical, life path—a two-by-four to the head that clearly says, “This is the way; walk in it … ” (see Isaiah 30:21). Unfortunately, that kind of clarification has rarely been my privilege over the years. Instead, I’ve learned to trust my gut, even when it teeters within a few percentage points of taking the alternate (often times, less desirable) path.

Sometimes, 51% is all I get. But every now and again, a 99% shows up . . . maybe even 100%, and there is no need for agonizing deliberation. I am grateful for those occasions; I’ve learned to be obedient to them as well.

Like three weeks ago, when I walked through an open door that (trust me when I tell you) wasn’t even on my radar – not one little bit. Three weeks ago, I was heart-deep in wedding preparations—a season filled with enough emotional trauma to clutter and confuse reasonable thought processes. Choosing the color of my toe-nail polish was a struggle, much less choosing a life-path. Still and yet, a choice presented itself, one that would not only alter my life, but also the lives of my family. That decision?

After fifteen years of being a stay-at-home mom, I’ve decided to take a job outside the walls of my home. Instead of homeschooling my children, I’ll be teaching someone else’s children – fourth graders at a small Christian school just down the road. If this opportunity hadn’t come about in the way that it did, I wouldn’t have had the courage to walk through this door. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have had the strength. A year ago I was busy giving away all of the contents of my teacher boxes in an effort to lighten our load prior to our move to this community. After hauling that mess around for years, I had no intentions of ever, practically using any of it again. I kept one banker’s box, the contents of which are less practical and mostly sentimental.

And so, I’m starting from scratch, walking down a road I never imagined I’d be walking down again, and I’m doing so with a 99/1%, two-by-four affirmation in my pocket that will, undoubtedly, buoy my “want to” as this season unfolds. It may not make a lick of sense to others, but it makes perfect sense to me. Accordingly, I offer no apologies or explanations to the naysayers; I simply walk through this open door in obedience, knowing that the favor of God and the shine of heaven rest upon me.

This is my next, and I’m ready to turn the page, ready to let go of any previous notions of what I thought I should be doing (those 51/49 wranglings of the heart) and ready to step into the 99% I know that I should be doing. It’s just that clear and, relatively, simple. How grateful I am for a reprieve from the constant, internal debate regarding my next!

I don’t know where you are today as it pertains to choosing a life-path. Maybe you are contentedly walking with a 99% affirmation in your heart; maybe less contentedly, hovering between your 51 and your 49. I understand them both. This is the life of the faith . . . walking forward with God and trusting that, even when it’s with a 51/49 affirmation, he will establish your steps as you go and strengthen your witness for his glory and his renown.

Step on, friends. Step forward. Step always with God. These next steps matter. You can make them confidently, knowing that, wherever the path leads, you’ll never walk alone. Not ever.

Rest in the company of our King today. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

PS – The winner of Leah’s study, HeBrews: a Better Blend, is Rebecca! Please be in touch with your mailing address, friend.

22 Responses to life beyond the 51/49 principle

    • I’m so glad that you’ll be receiving Leah’s study. I think I have your mailing address. I’ll check and let you know.

  1. It sounds like a perfect next for you Elaine. The timing, and your abilities to bless and inspire other kids… THEY are going to love their teacher!! This is exciting news!


    • I’m very excited, Sonja, as are the kids. This is an answer to prayer at so many levels. I hope you’ll follow along throughout the year. I’m sure the Lord will teach me much!

    • When I ordered it, I knew just exactly where I was going to put it – behind my desk on the wall for all the kids to see. I’ll think about you every single day, Melanie.

  2. Oh, Elaine! This sounds so exciting, and it feels like the *perfect fit* for you! I can only imagine what God is going to do in and through you as you step into this next adventure! How lucky those children will be to have you as their teacher. And I know that since God has led you through this door, He will uphold your family in the unfolding.

    I usually go with my gut, too – but then I endlessly question my decisions with plaguing second thoughts. My last big life decision was moving to the mountains. Funny, but I couldn’t settle on whether God was saying go or stay. Finally, feeling pretty sure that He was saying go, we moved in that direction. Confirmation after confirmation followed. Sometimes I guess, the 99% comes after the 100% commitment to doing God’s will.


    • Absolutely, Sharon. It’s been amazing to see the clouds part and the blessings flow down since my making this decision. Blessings, friend.

  3. Ah, now I understand the need for a filing cabinet! So grateful for the times that are 99/1! I’ll be praying for you. Oh, my! What does God have in store?! Love you!

  4. What exciting news! And I know what a blessing you will be to those kids AND their parents! And yes, it just doesn’t get much better then KNOWING this is without a doubt what the Lord has for you at this time in your life. May this new journey be rich in all of His very best!

    • Thank you, friend. I appreciate your support and good thoughts. It’s going to be an interesting season of discovery.

  5. Congratulations on your new position! (Will your kids be attending the same school?) I’m glad you have the assurance you’re headed in the direction you’re supposed to be. You’re right that it is great to reference when those doubts hit down the road (as they always do when we’re on the path with Jesus. Our human side likes to talk louder than that still, small voice leading us on). I hope this new endeavor is filled with joy and that deep sense of peace that comes from being exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing the work He has given. Blessings on you and the children you’ll be ministering to.

    • Yes, Mary, my children will be attending school there as well – an answer to prayer as we struggled with homeschooling this past year. We’re all on a learning curve here – looking forward to growth and grace as we go.

  6. Very interesting and yet exciting Elaine! I know I never imagined I’d be where I am right now. Life can be so challenging at times. And yet I look at the relationships I’ve developed through this season of my life and I’m so grateful. I see the faces of the children I never would have met and I’m grateful. Embrace this season and may the Lord bless you and those you will impact this year. I’m looking forward to reading all about it.

    Blessings and love,

  7. wifeforthejoureny:

    Even though its been a long time since a group of elementary school kids have been able to hear the words, “Welcome to Mrs. Olsen’s class,” I am in full agreement that this is an opportunity of God’s design. For as much as I know you’re going to be challenged by this return to the classroom, I am celebrating this moment as another step in your long road to recovery from cancer. I hope you will continue to find fulfillment in all you do; I’m also excited about Jadon and Amelia’s new adventure at SCA.

    Got to go – love you!
    ~ Billy

  8. That’s good news, Elaine! I’m guessing this fell into your lap–I’ve had a few of those jobs, such as the one I started this week. I was wondering when you’d go back to teaching. God changes our hearts sometimes. I know you will be a blessing to those kids. Have fun!

  9. What a beautiful unexpected blessing this is for you, and for your family. I like the way you compared the 51/49 and the 99/1 … Personally I really feel safe with the 99/1 (This is the way, walk in it – one of my favorite verses) confirmation in my heart. Yet, Abba Father is honored by the mustard seed grain of faith that we hold on to, whenever things are not so clear. A lot of times, things work out fine as well with the 51/49.

    I am rejoicing with you and your family in this new season of your life… another stage in your healing journey.

    Much love

  10. This is such happy news and reason to Rejoice with you! I love it when God has you let go of all the old stuff (literally) and then takes you right back to the place you thought you’d never go again and asks you to ‘start fresh’!! Praying that all of your days are filled with joyful learning 🙂

  11. Since I am a parent of one of those fortunate kids she will be teaching – I am overwhelmed ! We had never met til last week , and as a protective parent in today’s culture , I checked out your stuff that you gave us website information on. My child was a Chinese orphan and each year we go through the summer asking God to bring a new teacher to her where she can flourish . Thank you Mrs. Olsen for listening to the owner of the lifepath of us all!

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