It's a wild ride these days! My wife Kristine is just a few weeks away from completing her doctorate. I am a few short weeks away from the end of a four year journey at St. Joseph's Catholic Academy and I'm on track to complete my master's by the end of the year. We're both job hunting and house hunting and we want to get a dog. Our daughter Noelle is pretty happy about that last one - she loves puppies!
But when I really get to thinking about all the changes taking place, it doesn't take much to bring on the fear and anxiety. I think it's due in no small part to the fact that it isn't really a "ride" at all, is it? Rides are usually passive experiences. Even the wild ones where you need to be strapped in and double-checked are ultimately characterized by someone else pushing buttons and pulling levers while you hold on for dear life or throw your hands up, screaming in excitement or terror or both.
This moment in our lives isn't like that, though, at least not entirely. We have lots of decisions to make. We get a say. We actually get more say than we might realize when so many things are taking place each day and so many considerations compete for our full attention. How should we sort it all out? How should we pray about these important decisions? Surely it's wise to pray, "Lord, thy will be done," but how do you know what his will is, though?
Does God have an answer sheet? We picked the Cairn terrier but God wanted us to pick the rescue beagle. Shoot! We blew it! God wanted us to choose the house with the new roof and the old kitchen cabinets. We picked the one with the stunning new cabinets and the ugly old roof. God shakes his head with a weary despair. And the final straw - the dream jobs. We picked door #2. Guess what! Door #3 was the correct one. God throws his hands up and goes on vacation over the fiasco. We sit around without a clue about what to do next.
Is that really how we see things? Do we really think God is like that? Do we truly want to box our beloved, infinitely merciful Father in heaven into such a confined, ridiculously small space as that? Shame on us if we do. He has absolutely perfect will. He knows the tiniest choice we can make in each situation and precisely how it will affect us. But for some wild reason God gives us a free will, a capacity to choose between not just two, but an untold multitude of possibilities. He loves to give us such freedom and he quietly whispers hints to us at every moment.
The truth is that we know this and it is oftentimes a terrifying truth, indeed. We fear the responsibility of the choice. I think in my case, deep down it's because I want God to make the choices for me so that if things go awry I can blame him and not myself! I often find myself afraid of the responsibilities of being a good husband, a good dad, a good employee, even a good home owner and dog master.
Maybe I should pray about all this. Maybe that prayer should be a lot less anxiety driven and anchored in my own fears of failure. Maybe instead it should be anchored in the loving trust that our wonderful, joyful Father in heaven wants nothing more for my family than peace, holiness, and to be the best witnesses to his love that we will allow him to make us. Sounds like a good place to start!