The Burden of Choice

Choice is overwhelming.


When I was a kid, I was sure my life was going to follow a pretty standard path.  I was going to grow up, graduate high school, go to college (study politics), get a great job, get married, and have kids, all while going to Church.  


I had a clear idea in my head. After all it’s what I grew up seeing, and I didn’t think there was much variation.


All of my preconceived ideas of what life would look like shattered when I realized the thrill (and terror) of choice.  Not only could I decide NOT to do all of the things I thought I would, but I was faced with an endless amount of alternatives.  If I decided tomorrow to pick up and go to clown college, I could (provided they accepted me; my resume isn’t exactly circus-ready).  


At first, that feels incredibly liberating.  But it quickly becomes burdensome.  


It’s difficult to not only have to make a decision, but to have to make the right decision in every little situation.  


What should I wear today?  How many cups of coffee are too many? Do I really to buy more video games?


And once I’ve made a decision, how can I be sure it was the right one?  What about some other option I didn’t fully consider?  What happens if I’ve picked wrong?


This alI takes up way too much of my energy.  My life is an endless weighing of pros and cons, and if I’m struggling to sift through choices when it doesn’t matter, how can I expect myself to make good decisions when it does?


I haven’t always.   


The small choices we make in our daily lives usually don’t carry much weight in the long term.  What I have for dinner, or what brand of toothpaste I buy, doesn’t really matter all that much; so, if I wanted to, I could make these choices without much thought.  Yet when our day is full of so many inconsequential and rushed decisions, we need to be careful that the serious decisions don’t fly by without a second thought.  


But how inconsequential are the small choices, really? It’s easy to forget that every day, from the moment we wake up, we are choosing what kind of person we want to be.  Every choice throughout the day defines and shapes us.  And there is no end to the decisions we need to make, great and small.  Which is daunting, to say the least.


I certainly don’t have all of the answers, and I’m hardly qualified to offer any decision-making advice; I make questionable decisions all day, every day.  But I do know that most of the really bad decisions I’ve made in my life have one common denominator: I forgot that, despite whatever situation, what I’m really trying to choose is Christ.


Who I’m trying to choose is Christ.


I forget occasionally that I have to make that decision over and over again.  It’s not a one time thing.  And each time I make that decision I am choosing to trust that God will guide me.


Now that I’m an adult (mostly) the responsibility to choose, and choose correctly, falls exclusively on me.  I am actively responsible for making Christ the center of my decision- making process.  I have to remember on my own to prioritize Church.  There is no one reminding me what time Liturgy starts, or that I shouldn’t stop for a Redbull because I want to receive Communion.


The active nature of choosing to go to Church on a Sunday morning helps me remember that, every time I make that decision, I am choosing Christ.


It’s kind of like fasting from sleep rather than food, a little choice that helps clarify where my  focus really needs to be.  


And this understanding, seeing my choices in light of my relationship to Christ, helps ground me in an otherwise stressful world.  


I can’t weigh the pros and cons of every decision I make in minute detail.  Even though we live in a culture obsessed with options (sometimes just for the sake of having more options) the benefits of choice shouldn’t mask the cost. Options are liberating, but they can also trap us in anxiety and doubt.  We can easily allow ourselves to get bogged down by the small things.  


Christ recognized this, and reminded us that if we place our trust in Him we will be provided for:


Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? … Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? ... But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:26, 28-29, 33)


I’m not going to make the perfect decision every time, and I’m going to regret some of the decisions I make.  Rather than obsess and stress over making the perfect choice every time, I need to learn to take a breath, to step back from weighing pros and cons and turn to Christ. As Christian discussed on Tuesday, I need to remember that I don’t have the strength or wisdom to handle this on my own.


Rather than rely on myself to make the right decision each and every time, I need to learn to trust God.  


I need to remember that I can’t do this on my own.


As I make all these decisions, I need to remember to trust that Christ will guide me as I move through a world of almost limitless options.  I just have to make sure I’m open to His grace.



Charissa is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM.  Charissa grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah where she studied political science at the University of Utah.  She enjoys sunshine, the mountains and snowcones.  Charissa currently lives in New York City.   


For more on choosing Christ, check out this episode of Be the Bee: