Life isn’t simple. Despite all of the ways in which we try to control our path – all the academic, work, and social hoops we jump through to provide order to our lives – the world we live in is fundamentally disorderly. How do you distinguish between the good and the bad? Or, even more challenging, how do you choose between two apparently desirable alternatives?
This is where I often find myself: Surrounded by ambiguously good options – none of them perfect, each appealing in its own way. Which should I pick? How do I resolve the inner conflict that comes when considering these good, but incomplete, choices?
The first step may be simply to recognize that neither option is the right one for me. Author Nassim Nicolas Taleb says, “When conflicted between two choices, take neither.” In order to find the way forward, I’ll need to release my grip on what I think I know and open myself to guidance. There is a better, more life-filled path for me to walk, but finding it requires that I surrender my limited vision and wait for clarity.
Early Quaker leader James Nayler speaks of this process of discernment, allowing God to move us from frustrated problem-solving into the freedom of spiritual surrender. He writes, “Art thou in the darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will fill thee more, but stand still and act not, and wait in patience till light arises out of darkness to lead thee.”
I don’t know what comes next; none of my good options seem like the right one. But I have faith that there is a power and spirit who is greater than my heart and knows all things. This inward light of Jesus will make a way where there seems to be no way, charting a course through the Red Sea of my conundrum. All I have to do is wait, and stay awake.