Wednesday, May 6

Choose your own adventure...?

I have had a lot of patients ask me if I'm dating anybody. I've come to expect it and not really mind, as it's natural for people to be curious and want to make conversation about something other than the weather. Recently one woman asked me and I said, "No, I'm single." Usually that's follwed by "Oh, but you're so pretty!" or "oh, you'll find someone, honey!" But this lady's response has kept me thinking, even a couple months later. She asked me, "Is that by choice?" I sort of stumbled and said, "Not really..." I guess the only way that would truly be "by choice" is if I had met the love of my life and opted out, or if I decided not to date...ever. But neither of these senerios really applied, so I was forced to concede that I was single and not by choice.

Few singletons would ever utter that won't see any "empowered" women on Oprah saying that either. It sounds so it's pathetic to have so little control over your life. It seems like in our society "choice" is at the top of the list of critera for judging whether someone (especially a woman) is living a full and healthy life. Darn it, we can choose our husbands (or whether or not we have one), our careers, and whether or not we want to abort our babies. And some of that is good...I for one am grateful that I live in a culture that doesn't force women in to marriage, but I'm starting to realize that the glorification of choice as a means to self-improvement that is so widely proclaimed in American culture is obscuring what it means to be a disciple, and what it means to have true freedom in Christ. Consider this quote from Stanley Hauerwas:

“Long story short: we don’t get to make our lives up. We get to receive our lives as gifts. The story that says we should have no story except the story we chose … is a lie. To be human is to learn that we don’t get to make up our lives because we’re creatures…. Christian discipleship is about learning to receive our lives as gifts without regret.”

I feel overwhelmed by choices...where to live, where to work, what kind of nurse to be, whether I should go to grad school, who I should spend my time with, etc. This quote is freeing in some ways--we can never do all the things and be all the things and love all the people we want to, but we have to believe that God has given us our lives for a reason and He'll use us even if our lives aren't this perfect story that we had concocted in our head--whether it's about marriage, friends, career, whatever. I don't want to leave that at any simple conclusion as sometimes I do feel "adrift in the world," as my friend Joyce put it the other day. But at least it's a start.