Thursday, June 13, 2013

Our Powerful Choice

Editing my novel, After Her Death, has me thinking a lot about the choices we make. Meghan, the story's protagonist, explores the idea of choice. Can she change from a person who passively floats through life to a woman who chooses the path she wants to walk? Can she embrace a life of intention and purpose when her world crashes and decisions made by others appear to force her hand?

Choice is not as simple as making a decision and reaping the results. Our desire to be free agents is ever so complicated by circumstances outside our control. Whether we label the intervening force God, cosmic fate, karma, the natural world, the consequences of living under the curse of sin, or even attribute no intentionality, no purpose, no design and simply call the force an accident, something often gets in the way of us fully owning the destiny of our choice.

Or does it?

Attending a conservative, evangelical Christian college, I overheard many a free will vs. predestination debate. As if the two ideas couldn't co-exist. As if the exercise of free will somehow threatened God's supremacy. Maybe I do have an unhealthy amount of cognitive dissonance, but I don't see inherent enmity between man's ability (and desire) to choose and God's sovereignty.

Then again, I am a woman. Generationally, a millennial. Personality-wise, a perceiver (on the Myers Briggs scale). It is not in my nature to view the world is such stark, rigidly hierarchical orders.

I am a product of my faith. I believe in a loving, active God who is intimately involved in the minutiae of His creation. But I am also a product of my democratic, individualistic culture. I support the exercise of our ability to choose. To choose who to marry, what career to pursue, where to live, whether or not to have children, whether or not to submit oneself to God.

Maybe it's too convenient that I see our ability to choose as a gift from God. That He respects and allows us the choice to follow Him or not. He draws us close with bands of love, but lets us decide whether or not we accept His offer. I do not see this as weakness. Rather, it is a display of great restraint. He has the power and ability to program us like robots. But instead, He does the hard thing. The hardest thing. He puts Himself at risk. Makes Himself vulnerable. Even conforms Himself to the flesh of a man and the deprecating weight of time for 33 years.

All this for love. For His love. For our choice to follow in His example by living a life inexplicably both ruled and set free by love.

And yet sometimes love doesn't happen. Disease devastates. Engagements break. Marriages crumble. Careers nosedive. Jobs don't materialize. Housing bids fall through. Unplanned pregnancies surprise, while yearned after ones miscarry or don't occur at all.

Death happens.

No matter how many times the actualization of our choices are neutered, we still retain the choice of our response. God has even generously given us a palette of colorful, at times fearful or exhilarating, emotions to accompany our response to unwelcomed surprises. Dashed dreams. Ruined empires. And He does not allow anything to impair our chosen response. What we make of how our choices actually turn out after the dust settles is still up to us.

And that is a very powerful choice.

1 comment:

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