In the Whirled: The gospel and the power of limited life choices

Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

When you get married, you eliminate a lot of choices, namely whom to date and how to manage your social life. When you have children, this further limits your choices, and carries the added weight of needing to provide for a family. No more twiddling thumbs, trying to figure out what to do with your life. You just move forward.

Consider this from Barry Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review:

“There is diminishing marginal utility in having alternatives; each new option subtracts a little from the feeling of well-being, until the marginal benefits of added choice level off. What’s more, psychologists and business academics alike have largely ignored another outcome of choice: More of it requires increased time and effort and can lead to anxiety, regret, excessively high expectations and self-blame if the choices don’t work out.”

I look at that list — anxiety, regret, high expectations and self-blame — and I think of young singles today who are reportedly more depressed than any generation previously, despite having an unparalleled buffet of choices.

When I get my toddler dressed in the morning, I don’t ask him what color shirt he wants to wear. We would still be standing by the closet at noon.

Instead, I say, “Red or blue, what will it be?” It makes sense that our Father in heaven might do the same: Here are your choices — but please, pick one.

It’s an oversimplified example. Some choices we make are monumental, even eternal, and deserve careful consideration.

But life is not a vacuum. Choose, and move forward.

Tiffany Gee Lewis lives in St. Paul, Minn., and is the mother of four boys. She blogs at thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com. Her email is tiffanyelewis@gmail.com

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