The Burden of Choice

100819-07By Andrea Freeman

Making choices. For some, it might seem easy, but for us mortals, it is the worst thing to do. It seems every decision I make has a thorough vetting process through which I weigh the pros and cons, think about how it affects my future, and considering how it might affect others. 
Above all, I worry if what I am doing is a part of God’s plan, and it seems that I might never get a concrete answer. A lot of choices are made quickly with little thought to the consequences, such as picking a cereal to have for breakfast, or choosing what pajamas to wear that night. When I was young, I had a system for making choices: do what I want to do or what my parents would want me to do. But when I started thinking for myself more in high school, I realized that I did not want people to make choices for me. That shift did not start easy.  

At first, I let my friends make my decisions, because I wanted them to like me. Decisions like, how I should dress or what my hair should look like, or even, what classes I should take the following year. If I couldn’t ask my friends, I would ask my parents. I found that doing things because other people wanted me to, did not make me happy. I did not want to be anyone’s doll, devoid of thought for themselves. I did not want to ask for advice anymore, but I had never been taught how to make decisions. So, I didn’t. I froze. Hard decisions like picking a college, or major, or what I wanted my career to look like, went unanswered for so long.  

I was terrified of making a choice I would regret for the rest of my life and being unable to go back. What if God had a specific plan for me, and one wrong move would ruin my life? This buildup followed me for so long, I couldn’t eat or sleep. I had mounting anxiety as graduation loomed closer. I was depressed because I felt like I couldn’t make a choice and that I would die, lonely and unaccomplished because of it. Every night I would pray that God would somehow reveal to me, clear as day, what I should do. My older sister was the one who finally threw me into the deep end. After a family night, she took me aside and set me on a laptop to apply for at least one college. I told her I couldn’t, that I did not even know where to start.  

She asked me what college I had heard of recently that I was mildly interested in. I pulled out all the crinkled fliers and pamphlets at the bottom of my backpack and the top one was Northwestern College. It was a free application and took a short amount of time and little effort. I was surprised and relieved. When we got to the section full of possible majors, however, that relief drained away. I had no idea what to pick. I enjoy so many things, but what would give me the best career, what would make my parents proud of me? Once again, my sister came to the rescue. I had told her I like science among other things, and she knew I liked art. She chose computer science as my major (even though it isn’t what I normally think of at the word science), and art as my minor.  

Looking back, I could have picked undecided, but that was not the lesson I was about to learn. When I visited for the first time, I felt, for the first time, excited to make the step into college life. Terrified, but excited. Finally, it seemed like God was giving me a concrete answer, shouting “Yes! This is the one! This is what I want for you!” I knew, at the end of the day, I was going to Northwestern College. Every day felt amazing, because even if the day didn’t go as I expected or wanted, I knew this was a part of God’s plan for me. I felt so relieved. My first year here was amazing, and I felt great about how it went, but was afraid of where I was going. I considered switching my major and at the end of the summer, decided to switch to ecology, but the classes I wanted to take were full. Once again, I was petrified. I could stay in my current major, but if I decided later that I wanted to change it, I probably wouldn’t be able to graduate in four years. But I couldn’t think of another thing I wanted to switch to.  

That’s when I realized the lesson God was teaching me. God promises that whatever choices you make in life, He will be there with you. No matter what you decide, God’s going to be there with you to help you through it. What I learned, was that the important thing isn’t what choice you are making, it’s that you make it. Being frozen was not going to help me. An answer was not going to fall out of the sky. So, I’m sticking with computer science for now. It may not be where I stay, but that does not matter to me right now. What I have learned is that you must make the decision, even if you are not sure it is the best one, because then you can keep moving forward, learning, growing, and changing. I do not know what the future holds, but I don’t need to! God is taking care of it. My job is just to keep walking through life, one decision at a time.

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