I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the choices we make in life. On any given day, we make any number of choices. Many are inconsequential — Cheerios or toast for breakfast, the red or black shoes, etc. Then, there are the decisions that change the course of one’s whole life — who to date, what college to go to, whether to get married or enter religious life or stay single, what job to take, where to live, and so on.
Steve and Isaac Yoder write a father and son column for The Wall Street Journal Sunday. The column for April 26, 2009 focused on Isaac’s need to make a decision on which college to attend. Both father and son suffer from difficulty making decisions. In this particular column, they were discussing an article by Professor Barry Schwartz on “The Paradox of Choice.” The point of Prof. Schwartz’s article is to make a decision based on your “core requirements” rather than searching for the “elusive best.” Those who are satisfied with less end up happier in the long run.
We make the best decisions we can at the time based on the information we have at the moment. If we are wise, we pray about them. Even with such solid decision making, however, there often comes a time in life when we look back and wonder “Did I do the right thing?” Did I actually follow God’s plan or did I totally screw it up and go on my own path? What would life have been like if I chose what was behind Door A instead of Door B? I was discussing this with the women’s Bible study I attend. One of my friends very wisely remarked, “Maybe you were meant to screw up the plan.”
It is true. Regret serves no real purpose. I have a good life and I am very thankful for it. Spending time wondering what might have been is time wasted. Life might have been better or worse. The only guarantee is that it would have been different. God is also bigger than any decision I have made or may make. I am a firm believer that God can bring good out of anything. If we screw up the plan, God comes up with another one for us. God is forgiving and good. He knew when He gave us free will that sometimes we would make decisions other than the ones He would have made for us. I don’t think that means that God stops using us to achieve His purposes. It might take longer. We might have to get there by a more convoluted route, but if we try to live a God-centered life, God will somehow help us to achieve the life we were meant to live. I take great comfort in that.