Every choice is too hard.
Is there anybody out there who understands what I mean?
I have started down a path for my life, and I honestly have no idea where this is going. I have spent years traveling, hoping to stumble across at least a rudimentary map of what lies ahead. But there isn’t one. It has yet to be written. Every turn I take is uncharted territory. I don’t know where the story of my life is going to lead me or my family. The mystery of undiscovered lands, the heart-leap of mountain-top views, the deep and dark of forests, the sharp surprise of hidden waterfalls… How profoundly will walking through the valleys change us? Are we on the right course? There are so many diverging roads. There are so many choices. So many unknowns. We don’t know where we are going to end up. And I’m not going to lie. Sometimes, I am just hoping and praying we are heading in the right direction.
Because I wake up every morning with a million choices in the queue. How we will arrange our lives… What will learning will look like? What will we have for breakfast-lunch-dinner-snacks? How much time and energy do I want to put into every aspect of this day? There are nine of us living in this little house–all needing to be fed, watered, clothed, educated, inspired, nurtured, loved, seen, heard, understood… Trying to work this out new every morning can get overwhelming. It is easy to get lost inside your very own never-ending choose-your-own-adventure-book.
I know and truly believe it is a blessing to live an unscripted life, but the simple fact of the matter is: choices are hard. Even the easy ones are hard when you are dealing with this many people on a day to day basis. Because what one person needs in any given moment is not the same as what another person needs. And people want plenty that they don’t need, myself included. And it is sometimes hard to separate what is essential from what is preferential.
And then there are really hard choices, about things like discipline and how many kids we are going to have and if we are going to try to sell our house or if we are thinking about shaking up our plan for family education. And even bigger questions like who are these people anyway and how in this world are we going to raise them to be the souls they were created to be. And this is just normal life! No tragedies, no medical issues, no life-or-death situations. There are so many big questions. There are moments in my everyday reality when it seems as if everything is at stake.
And the truth is, there is not a one-size-fits all when it comes to big life choices. And many times even the best choices create problems that have to be solved. My children didn’t choose to be in a big family. Do I hope and believe that they will be thankful for it? Yes. Does it make their life easier? In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. We have lots of opportunity to work on things like sharing, giving and taking, dealing with different types of personalities. This is a good thing. We also all have to deal with a lot of crying and screaming, a lot of serving people who are younger and less able to help themselves, a whole lot of going ssslllllloooooowww. We have to generally adopt a different pace of life, which, for all its merits, can be a real struggle.
With homeschooling, we are opening a certain kind of window to the world. One where we can create opportunities for learning that traditional school can’t. We can give our children time and guidance to pursue their interests. We can allow them the breathing room to go at a different pace. But saying yes to this kind of life is saying no to another. Am I a pro at this? Of course not. Am I am figuring it out as I go? Of course I am. And I am just taking it all one day and prayer at a time.
The life journey is difficult, because there are treacherous roads, and there are so many choices that seem good. And so many choices that are good. And yet there is so much to overcome even in the best choices. And there is always the unexpected result of a choice made that takes you down a detour and makes you late for what you thought was the real climax of your story. Only to find that the destination no longer exists.
I am just trying to figure out my life, one day at a time. I am just trying to discern which direction to walk. I desperately want a clear path to follow. Someone to hand me a map and say, “Here. This is your life. You will maximize it if you take this road, turn here, cross the river here. Look out for this. Make sure to stop and enjoy the view from this point…” But in reality, no one has drawn it out yet. Because I am the first person to walk this specific calling. I was created by God for a unique purpose. And my life is the map. And it is still being drawn. I am walking through the human experience, pencil and notebook in hand, writing down the course I have taken. I am looking back over a life of faith, seeing the hand of God in every step of the way. I never thought we would make it this far. I see the unexpected turns we took that once seemed like major detours, and how they actually brought us into land that was fertile and fragrant and full of life. I see valleys where we crossed through the darkest shadows only to come out on the other side where the sun was rising into good green pastures. Deep wells, clear springs, rivers of living water.
My goal in life is to hear from God. I aspire to wake up, lean into him, and pray for vision for this day. (God, show us the things you want to teach us today. Help us to learn what we need to know for our lives today. God, show me how to focus my energy and time today. God, lead me in this next step. Show me where to go and show me how.) Because without him, I can’t stress to you enough how I feel the weight of every single choice. There are too many unknowns, too many consequences, too many regrets. Too many lives at stake.
We are daily standing on the edge of a new landscape. Oh, God, which way do we go?
One thing I have learned from looking back at the map I have scratched out over these last thirty-eight years of my life, and that is this: I refuse to make decisions about where we will go based on fear. I tell you this, trembling. We would have missed so many blessings if we had always waited on things to make perfect sense instead of taking a Spirit-led step of faith. God, in his ever-lovingkindness, has always delivered, right on time, everything we need to walk through even our darkest places. And I cannot begin to express to you how lavishly He has done it. He has shown us that He cares profoundly about the details of our lives. I have felt His pleasure again and again as we stand at a crossroad and say no to fear and yes to faith. He cares about our deep desires. And He continues to take the small seed of faith that we have and turn it into orchards of abundance.
When we walk with Christ, the goal is not to get from point A to point Z on a map that we studied in a textbook. We are living a life that is breaking new ground. In Him, we have access to wonder and surprise, to mercies new every morning, to rivers of life, life more abundant, life everlasting.
Does it mean we never make a misstep? Of course not. But I have seen that even my mistakes can be used by Him, when I offer up a surrendered heart. There is grace upon grace as I give myself over to the purpose He has for my life and the life of my family.
Every choice is too hard. Except for one. Looking back through the pages of my map-journal, I have found only one choice that is always clear. And that is listening for His voice. The only way I know how to live in peace in a world where there are so many decisions is by bringing every day before Him, inquiring in every season, and asking Him to lead our family for the glory of His Name. When I listen for his voice, I do not have to worry. I do not have to look back in regret. I just walk by faith, one day at a time. And I believe that God will give me vision to see the next step as He illuminates the way before me.
We are forging a new path. We are clearing a trail for others to see. We are leaving a record of our lives through the ever-expanding spaces that have yet to be seen by human eyes. Our story is a new story, still unfinished. Our journey is a new journey, with lands undiscovered. And my life is the in-progress map of God’s grace, mercy, and deliverance.