Making Hard Choices


Ruth Chang is a professor of Philosophy at Rutgers. Her Ted Talk which I have included above cleared up some things for me with regard to decision making.

In short, Dr. Chang argues that hard choices are actually good for us.

Channeling her inner Derrida, Dr. Chang deconstructs the rational arguments that we tend to put in place when faced with difficult decisions in life.

The Enlightenment taught us to see everything through the lens of Reason; everything has value, and decisions can be made by weighing the relative value of the options. You know how this works: we take out a piece of paper and begin writing down the pros and cons of each option. Ultimately, we come up with a rational reason for why one option is better than the other. If the options are seemingly equal - well, then we have a problem on our hands.

Having to make the "hard" decisions in life become the cause of many a sleepless night, emotional turmoil, anxiety and stress-related illness.

Dr. Chang suggests that we begin to see hard choices not as a curse, but as a godsend; an opportunity to create our own reasons for choosing. As opposed to being enslaved by the decision, we are empowered.

I would like to consider this argument briefly from a theological perspective.

The New Testament concept of faith comes to us from the Greek idea of "trustworthy action." Contrary to what we often hear in Christian circles, faith has much less to do with "belief" than it does with "trust." Faith, by very definition, resists certainty (which is somewhat ironic in that many Christians relate "faith" so closely with "truth")

If, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, "faith is the substance of things hoped for," then as faithful people, we ought to be all the more comfortable with making hard decisions.

Our trust and hope in the guidance and leading of God's Spirit should be adequate for us when faced with equally valid options.

Our Christian theological heritage reminds us that our Hebrew ancestors had to trust the guidance of YHWH on a regular basis. Hard choices were made, not by weighing the options and then choosing the one that seemed most logical and rational, but through prayer and reliance upon the leading of the Spirit.

The Proverb writer captures this so well here:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight - Proverbs 3.5-6

So, next time you have a hard choice to make, face it with confidence. For it is in these moments that we are able to live in to our faith, trust the leading of the Spirit, and create reasons that will enable us to become the people we were created to be.


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