By Vanessa Rasanen
I sat uncomfortably on the couch — or was it a loveseat? No matter. The man across from me listened as I rambled a bit, my eyes shifting off to the corner of the room and then to my feet and then back to him. I’ve never been comfortable with eye contact when I’m speaking, and ever since I had someone call me out on my rude way of looking around during a conversation I’m well-aware that I am doing this now. The man chuckles slightly when I finally stop.
“You are very black and white in your thinking. You seem concerned with whether you’re doing the right thing or whether your decisions are okay or your actions proper. Which is odd, since you’re a writer. Though, I guess you’re also an engineer.”
Okay, no, I don’t remember exactly what the counselor said word-for-word. But that was the gist — you’re a writer, which is creative and open, but then you want everything to be nice and neat and packaged just so. I didn’t go back to this counselor — not for this reason, though I can’t say I particularly enjoy being laughed at, even if it is just a chuckle — but what he said has stuck with me.
I do obsess over whether a decision is wrong, whether a choice is incorrect, or whether an action makes me seem weird or odd or different. I want to be firmly on the right side of my black and white worldview, without doubt but with complete certainty.
Yet, this world isn’t black and white. It’s fallen in a big grey mess of hard decisions and sticky spots. Rarely do we find ourselves faced with a crossroads with clearly marked signs denoting which is the right path and which is not. More often than not we’re left standing there trying to determine which is the lesser of the not-so-pleasant options ahead of us.
Do we quit our job to stay home with the kids despite the piling up bills? Or do we go back to work trusting the teachers and the caregivers to love and watch over our little ones?
Do we open our hearts, bodies, and homes to as many children as God will give us? Or do we decide our bodies and our health cannot risk having any more?
Do we vote for the least repulsive candidate? Or do we leave that presidential spot untouched on our ballot? (Sigh)
Do we start this new business? Do we move across the country for a new job? Do we stay in the military? Do we send our kids to the only parochial school in town even though it’s Catholic?
Sadly, there aren’t always clear answers, and we can’t just stand there undecided. I’ve watched too many evangelical friends frozen in fear of choosing a path contrary to God’s will, unable to move and pick until they’ve gotten a “clear sign” as to the way they should take.
Thankfully, we are Lutherans, not mystics.
We don’t look for a divine answer in the clouds, the sunshine, the songs on the radio, or even the scripture verse our bible randomly opens to. We know His Word isn’t a magic 8 ball fortune cookie with hidden messages to us right when we need it — though man, it’s oh, so tempting to treat it as such sometimes.
Instead, we have something greater than hidden messages and cryptic codes. We have prayer. We have the promise from our Lord that He hears our prayers. We have the Holy Spirit interjecting for us when we’re so lost and confused and distraught that we can’t even utter the prayers we need.
So, we pray for wisdom. We pray that we would trust Him to work for good in all things for those in the faith. We pray that His will would be done — not ours, but His. And then… we act. We move. We decide. We leap.
And when we trip and stumble down our selected path, when we fail to stop worrying, when we feel overcome with guilt, we can drown that Old Adam and find contentment in the waters of our baptism, knowing — without a doubt and with complete certainty — that we are forgiven and redeemed in Christ Jesus.