Today’s Word: Turns

Garden Path near Santa Fe. SJG photo.

There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.” Mark Nepo

I was talking to a friend recently who is trying to make a big life decision – one of those seemingly huge choices that appear to be riddled with opportunities for both success and failure. In the words of those sage rock ‘n’ roll philosophers from The Clash: “Should I stay or should I go?”

He is going about the discernment process in all the right ways, I believe. He’s talking to trusted friends and advisors. He’s doing his homework on the new place. He’s considering what he will be leaving behind. He’s praying and trying to leave it all in the hands of God, who knows him better than he knows himself. Still, it’s a tough decision. He’s not hearing any voices. He’s not receiving any divine telegraphs. As it so often happens in life, we have to make these decisions for ourselves, hoping and praying that it’s the right one. It can be a scary and confusing time.

But here’s the thing and here’s where he has landed: It’s not just about weighing the positives and negatives of A and B and choosing the one that “wins.” Because sometimes, your choice isn’t between the good and the bad. That would be easy. Sometimes, we need to choose between two very good options, and for those decisions we are called to a new kind of freedom. It is a freedom that stems from our faith, a freedom that says, “choose as best you can and then follow the path.”

When we try to discern and follow God’s will, we can get caught up in the idea of making the “right” decision, as if God is waiting for us down one path but not the other. Sometimes, circumstances dictate that we must make a decision by a certain date. Deadlines are deadlines. We most often cannot put life on “pause” while we figure out the answer (like I sometimes do while watching Jeopardy!)

Sometimes, we just need to move on and make the decision. And the moment we do, that becomes the right decision. We own it. We embrace it. And we begin again the daily hard work of watching for the signs of God’s presence in our lives, of discerning the small, everyday decisions that add up to a life, of embracing gratitude for every moment as a way of life.

Ask yourself in silence: Does my faith give me the freedom to make choices, knowing that God waits for me on either path?

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