Choosing between Two Good Options

Its an obvious point, but choosing can be pretty hard.  I mean, sometimes a choice is obvious: ice cream vs. pot roast, sleeping in vs. not, white lights vs. colored lights (oh- is that just me?)- when one option is clearly the lesser choice (or rather, the lesser gain), its not hard to pick. Yet the problem with a lot of life, at least the big stuff of life, is that often its choosing between two good options. Two options with two very different outcomes- both good in some way- and usually both hard in some way. And with one choice made, comes the loss of the other. And that’s the hardest part- at least for me…dealing with the tradeoffs. Because I don’t want there to be tradeoffs– I’m a recovering black and white thinker- I want the good choice (or the BEST choice) to be free of baggage– free of having to give something up to gain it. And it drives me positively MAD that life doesn’t work that way– that for me to choose one thing means I forfeit the other. That reality can be so tough even when one choice is objectively the *better* choice, and made even harder when there isn’t a *better* choice.

Like this stupid school decision. Do I go back and finish the little school that I have, to then have completed what I started four years ago and walk away with a Masters in Social Work, thereby opening various career choices for down the road? Or do I stay home, with the little person that I adore, doing the home thing (which, surprisingly, brings me a lot of joy) and focus all my energy on being at home? With one choice, I miss out on precious time with LO…who is, as I often think, so amazing and so wonderful and SUCH a gift to watch grow up…and yet with that same choice, I gain a world of options, when down the road, LO and whoever may follow after her are in school and off having their own adventures. With the other choice, I gain the chance to passionately dive one hundred percent into motherhood-this season of life that I’m inevitably in with either decision-and create a simple rhythm at home for LO, the Man of the House, myself and open the door to more children (God-willing) sooner rather than later for us because I’m not hurrying to finish up my degree, but I lose all the hard work that I completed before LO’s birth…work that I enjoyed (mostly) and entered into because I felt called…work that doesnt feel as pressing at the moment because its not what’s right in front of me, but work that I know God needs hands to do.

 

Either way I’m gaining. Either way I’m losing.

 

And its really hard.

 

Oftentimes, when I’m faced with options, I end up freezing (thats the fight-flight-FREEZE…the freeze is the one they don’t talk about but is also very real!)- and  sometimes, that inability to decide makes the decision for me, as I miss the window for the option. If I’m honest, that can be a relief– yes there is a level to which I feel shame when I consider that my own anxiety prevents a potentially great experience from happening–but I also feel relieved…”well, at least now I have my answer…at least now the decision isn’t still looming…”

 

But I don’t want this decision about grad school to look like that. I don’t want to wait too long to make it so as not to make it possible. I know myself– and I know there’s a strong likelihood I’d resent Lily or Sean or even myself down the road if I’m don’t own whatever choice I make.

 

So how do I get from here to there? From indecision and anxiety to decision and freedom? Today I’m not quite sure…but I’m hoping and praying for clarity. And for PEACE- knowing I am ultimately free to make either decision because either way, I’ll be ok.

And hopefully, the next time I have to make a *big decision*, my brain will remember a little more clearly that choice is never without tradeoff and that’s ok.

 

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Birthdays & Baggage

This morning I have been up early praying and thinking and journaling. I just celebrated a birthday and I find it so fascinating that the older I get, the more I realize how much baggage I carry. With each year, as I attempt to become more present to myself (my emotions, my thought processes, my past), I discover more and more ways that I long to be stripped of some of this stuff that I unknowingly have packed in my many bags along the way. I have bags upon bags of experiences, wounds, misbeliefs, hangups that I so often don’t even realize I’m bringing into the room with me…or even more poignantly, into a relationship with me.

And yet, and yet. I’m grateful for age because as I grow older, I’m becoming so much more aware of the baggage I’ve collected. I can now even call out some of it by name. In fact, I’ve discarded quite a lot  of it already! Some of the bags have been habits that once worked for me, but I’ve since grown out of…others have been stuff I never intended to carry– in fact, sometimes it has been someone else’s stuff that I was given and just carried along with me, without even questioning why I was carrying someone else’s things.

But I’m grateful. Grateful that with age has come an increasing boldness to shed all this extra stuff. Its amazing what actually *looking* at your emotional baggage (I kind of hate that phrase, actually, but it serves a good visual and symbolic purpose at this point) will do for you…and how freeing it is to realize that you don’t actually have to hold onto it.

But I think we get so daunted by the painfulness of really looking into our experiences…and we don’t know how to hold the pain with the good–especially when it comes to our families…its hard to acknowledge both the pain and love that can co-exist. So, our baggage collects and gets bigger and bigger. And the longer we go not looking at it, the more scary it becomes.

So again, I’m grateful. Grateful that with age–and God’s grace, I’m not afraid to look at my crap. Well, that’s not true. Sometimes I really am afraid– the same old track plays in my head…”if you look at this [choose your own adventure: the brokenness in this relationship, the pain, the unhealthy habit I’ve formed and feel unable to reverse etc. etc.]  you won’t be able to handle all that comes with really looking at it. and you’ll be worse off than you were before.” But what’s so incredible is how shallow a lie that thought is…because once you begin to make sense of something broken, it actually can begin to heal…and the momentum of that healing makes it possible to look at something else, and something else…once you really confront that lie of not being able to handle it, you realize how much more capable you are to handle anything, really.

 

AndI feel so so grateful because truly, with each year, I feel more and more capable…to boldly to look at my stuff, make a little (prayerful) sense of it, and oftentimes, leave it behind.

I undo the buckles, I unzip the seam, I take out the things that don’t fit anymore or were never mine to carry…and I move on, knowing that I am stronger for having examined and assessed it….and more alive for having done so. To move forward without excess and to live more and more as the person I was created to be. Free.