Lately I've found myself in situations in which it's not immediately clear to me what choice to make. The wisdom I've gained over the course of my life suggests different strategies and multiple choices, but I sometimes I don't know how to choose amongst those options. If the choices before me are all based on different values, how to I choose amongst them? Consider the following scenarios:
- I lead a busy life, and the stress can sometimes take a toll on me. I want to contribute in as many ways as possible, but I also want to take care of myself so that I can do my best work. Do I reduce my commitments so that I can have more time to rest and rejuvenate with the hopes that I will do better work in my other pursuits? Or is the work I'm doing important enough that it justifies putting this stress on myself to get it done?
- I believe that when people are adults, they have to be free to make their own decisions. I can try to convince them, but I cannot force them. I also believe that I cannot just stand by while others are hurt. Where is the line between those two convictions? In the absence of blatant violence, abuse, or infringement of rights, is there a point at which an intervention becomes necessary?
- I believe I should behave well towards even my adversaries. Yet, I do not think I should allow people to run roughshod over me or the people I love. I must be able to stand up to them without abandoning my foundation of love. How can I be firm in defense of my convictions without crossing over into anger or aggression?
If you want to physically keep your balance, then you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you and to the environment around you. Likewise, in these abstract situations, I need to pay attention to the specifics of the situation at hand, my own personal state, and God's input. I am not clever enough to read every tricky situation correctly, so I need God's help if I'm going to keep my balance. Am I strong enough to persevere through a busy schedule? Is my friend's behavior harmful enough to require me to step in? What strategy should I use to be strong yet righteous? I may not know the answers to these questions, but God does. He probably won't give me the answers in a booming voice from heaven. Instead, God will probably lead me through intuition, outside circumstances, or even the advice of others. In order to get the message, though, I must be paying attention to what's going on inside and around me.
I cannot blunder through life based on a narrow set of values. My values are only a starting point. If I want to live gracefully, then I also need balance, and that means listening to God and accepting assistance when I don't know what to do.