I was recently approached by a few friends on the topic of choice and the growing number of individuals who seem lost in the limbo of life not being able to put it to practice. The discussion had started when they’d approached an older and wiser professor and Dean of Graduate Studies that we work with to weigh in his opinion on the topic of the growing number of older single people. He hesitated in his response, but after further prying he responded with a simple statement, “I think my generation raised your generation with so many options, that they now have a fear of choosing. They’re overwhelmed with the options and therefore don’t want to make the wrong choice, because it will mean saying no to everything else.”
There’s a growing number of conversations that I frequently hear from friends my age and younger and it goes something like this, “I just love everything. I have so many passions so I’m just waiting on God to show me what to do next.” “God wired me this way and I’m good at a lot of things, but don’t love just one thing, so I’m just waiting on God to open the next door so I have clarity on which direction to move.” The only problem is, they rarely move. Years go by and those using this excuse are still waiting on God to make it clear – and if He doesn’t, well, He must want me to just stay put. The risk is too big to go it alone if they’re not 300% sure that God is leading that way. In essence they’re saying, “I don’t want the failure on me if I make a wrong choice or if this doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, so I want God to do the choosing so it’s then Him I can blame.” This form of thinking and reasoning becomes a cop-out so that it is God we are waiting on instead of ourselves and really our lack of choosing only points to a much bigger issue in our generation, but to unravel this a little more I have a story about the first time I realized my own issue with choice.
Years ago I branched out to start my own photography business. A sleeping desire had been awakened after doing some serious soul searching. I began interning with a couple who photographed weddings and then I later plunged into an internship with an incredible local lifestyle photographer. I loved so much about photography – the people, the working-from-home bit, the creativity, the light, the learning, the scouting for locations, the travel opportunities, you name it – and I loved exploring it. I started out shooting a lot of weddings and then did an internship with a well-established photographer in the area. I met with him once a week and would watch his process of editing, exporting, advertising, communicating with clients, and much more. He had a very unique style of shooting that told a story with every angle. Before long I could recognize photos that were his. They all carried the same look and feel…branding. It was during this short time that I realized that at some point I would have to decide what my style and brand of photography would look like.
This became very apparent when I started building my photography website and questions from my developer began rolling in. Do you have a logo, what color do you like, what layout would your prefer, what’s your photo style, etc, etc, etc. Starting out I loved everything. I wanted it all and it all gave me warm fuzzies. But I couldn’t be and choose everything. Choosing everything got me mediocrity in all areas or nothing at all. I had to choose. But choosing was hard. Saying I “liked everything” kept my options open and kept me liked by more people (or so it seemed). By choosing one form of photography I was then cutting off clientele who might be looking for the other. The only way I found to narrow down my choosing to clear, concise answers, was to ask one question; what did I like and why? I liked a lot of things, but there were things I liked more than others and for very good reason – because I did. It would never be a wrong or right that someone could debate or persuade, it was simply my choice. From colors, to logos, to layout to style of shooting, I began to choose. And with each choice I “un-chose” everything else.
Somewhere in our generation, long before losing the ability to choose became an issue I think we lost who we are and knowing what we like and why. Individually. Uniquely. We have tried so hard to please others and be liked by everyone, trying to hide from rejection or pain, rooted in lies of shame, that we hid our hearts and with it all of our unique likes and dislikes. We hid our voice. We hid our perspective. We hid our gifts. We lost our opinion. “If I don’t have an opinion, no one can judge me for it. I can’t make a mistake. I can get along with everyone.” We place more value on the opinion of others than we do our God-given, unique choice
Our generations struggle to choose is only a window glimpse into an entire generation struggling to be accepted. Known as the fatherless generation it makes sense. Father’s speak calling and destiny over their children. They speak identity and give them them their last name. Being able to choose externally is a sign that you have a clear understanding of who you are and who you want to be. You don’t fear making a wrong decision or making a wrong choice. You get to choose! God isn’t a slave driver demanding perfection, but a good Father raising confident children to follow in His ways. I think part of what God loves about having us as children is watching to see which route we’ll choose. We get to choose. We are the unique expression of His heart in all of our decisions and as children of the King, fear is not an option that should ever hold us back. We have been fully accepted!
In my own life and story, God took me through a season of digging in my heart and answering hard questions to figure out who I am and who I wanted to be. It started out with a photography business and choosing for that, but it went much deeper and once I answered some of those questions and figured out what I liked, what I enjoyed, what God had put in my heart, everything else got pretty easy. The hard work wasn’t choosing or not choosing something externally. The hard work was choosing to let me be me – to break off any comparison, rejection, or shame and to do the work of digging in my own heart to find who God made me to be and then continuing to choose it day after day. Things that came my way that didn’t line up with that vision/calling became much easier to say no to. Jobs that came my way, guys who started to pursue, opportunities that opened up… choosing became incredibly easy.
To sum it up, you will at some point need to make a choice. You will stay in your current season far past what God intended if you continue to put all of the responsibility on God for making your choices before simply stepping out. Our generation has been blessed with more options and choices than any other generation and the demand on our lives to people-please and not offend anyone has probably never been higher, but remember this, even in your un-choosing, you are in-deed still choosing. Being faithful with all that God has given you starts with what He’s put in you – the unique, no-ones-like-you, YOU. Whether it be a job, a spouse, a bedspread, a trip, ice-cream, music, or a photography website, do some heart-searching and figure out you and then start risking moving forward. Throw fear and shame to the curb and step up to the plate of choice.