Let Go of the Best
April 6, 2019 – Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
FOMO may be a new term popularized by the young denizens of social media platforms, but Fear Of Missing Out is, in one way or another, as old as decision-making itself. Many of our choices require us to forego some opportunities for the sake of pursuing another. Choosing to pursue a practicum opportunity in the Dominican Republic meant not only saying “yes” to all of the experiences I would have there, but also saying “no” or at least “not yet” to the experiences I would have had by pursuing an option in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.
Currently, I am trying to figure out my living arrangements for next year. Bro. Patrick (our Provincial superior) and I have settled on three suitable options for my new home base—I need to let him know which one I choose by next week. In the meanwhile, I can identify one 30-hour time period in which each of these possibilities took a turn as frontrunner.
This is both a very complicated and a remarkably low-stress discernment: although there are multiple factors pulling me in different directions, I also have every confidence that there is no bad choice. It is simply a matter of selecting whichever good choice seems optimal and then making it work. No looking back, no second-guessing. If, after putting in an honest effort, I still make a mistake in identifying the theoretically best option, IT’S OK. I will be able to make my good option work.
I think we worry too much about happier and happiest. If I can be happy while making others happy how much more should I really be asking for? This is especially true since, by my vow of obedience, I try not to make my own happiness the ultimate factor guiding my decisions. Instead, the challenge lies in trying to know and cooperate with God’s will for me. This will often coincide with what I expect to make me happy, but sometimes it might not.
If we truly believe that “God is love,” then the best way to align our decisions with God’s will ought to be to acting in a way that best reflects love of God, others, and self. A truly loving choice may emphasize one of these dimensions over another, but should not denigrate any. To lovingly sacrifice some aspect of my well-being for the sake of another requires me to appreciate and value myself in addition to whatever I am giving up. Self-sacrifice without self-esteem is not deep act of love, but rather masochism disguised as nobility. Willfully sacrificing the good of others in pursuit of my own ends is a monstrosity.
Choosing well requires not only good habits and perceptive judgment, but also the ability to relate well to your choice on the other side. Yes, we must recognize and learn from our mistakes, but we must also be gentle with ourselves. We all would like to have what is best, but sometimes we must learn instead to more fully appreciate the simply good.
For this week’s “ear candy”, the Soweto Gospel Choir covers U2’s hit “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. Ideally this would describe not only the motivations of the saints, but also those that underlie our every choice. The “brain food” is another classic, the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken”, which of course is about somebody who has difficulty making even minor decisions and second-guesses himself when he does so
Ear Candy: “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by Soweto Gospel Choir
Brain Food: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
Come back next Saturday for a new post!