By Marc Rademaker
You arrive home after a long day of work, school, or whatever day-long endeavor you’ve pursued to find yourself hungry for a snack. Upon looking on your counter, you see two options to eat: an apple or an orange. Which do you choose? On one hand, that orange is loaded with Vitamin C, but it would take a lot of effort to peel. The other choice is the apple, which would be quicker to eat, but would it taste better? In the moment you might find yourself asking, “Which choice would benefit me the most in this moment?” Perhaps a better question to ask is, “Does this choice matter?”
A more defined choice might be when given the option to either eat a donut or an apple. In this scenario, it is more clear which choice would be the healthier one, but that donut looks oh so delicious. What is the “right” choice?
Is there a right choice?
There may not be a right choice in the moment of deciding between an apple, an orange, and a donut. However, it’s when this decision comes up again and again that choices carry more weight. If I choose to eat the donut over a piece of fruit a few times in a row, I have formed a habit of eating donuts and not getting the fruit I need. Choosing one donut may have the innocent intention of satisfying a sweet tooth, but compounding donuts can have more negative health impacts. So, one decision that I make could have some influence on future decisions that I make. Of course, I shouldn’t stress over each and every choice I make, but choosing something to eat like a donut should be done in moderation. My decisions now can affect my ability to make decisions in the future, particularly in more serious circumstances that could lead to sin or other consequences.
Probably a more intimidating version of the decision would be about much bigger life choices, like what vocation and career to pursue. I find myself wondering often whether one decision I make now will negatively or positively affect my career outlook. But one important thing to remember is that one seemingly “wrong” decision does not define us. In one circumstance, choosing to sin leaves us with that sin on our conscience, but we can also later make the decision to go to Confession and take action to atone for that sin. In the case of choosing a career, one particular experience might make me realize that a career isn’t for me, but that doesn’t make the experience a bad choice. If anything, that experience benefitted me, even if not in the way I imagined it would.
Besides not worrying about making the “wrong” decisions, we also don’t need to worry about making life’s decisions on our own – because most of the time, we can’t make them on our own. Asking for help and advice from others in our lives who have had similar experiences or whom we look up to is one of the best assets we have.
But the most effective asset is, naturally, Jesus.
St. Thomas Aquinas was overheard late in his life in conversation with the Lord. God asked him for anything he wanted, and St. Thomas asked only for the Lord. That was all he truly desired because he knew that was all he really needed. Making the decision to simply choose God now, in small ways every day, is the most important thing we can do. The only time we can grow in Him and fully interact with Him is now. Only then can we be equipped to make the harder decisions in the future by understanding and interpreting His voice. And when we choose Him in the now, we can be fully present to make the less intimidating life choices that come in the now. If I am living a life in Christ, I can be confident in choosing to satisfy my sweet tooth with a donut every once in a while without worrying whether I will choose an orange next time.
“You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.”(Proverbs 16:9)
One of the best examples I have of this verse is from my first week back in classes. I’ve been trying to establish a routine with my studying. I had a plan to get to the library and work on some assignments before class one morning, but I unintentionally slept later than anticipated and was slower to get ready. Before I left, both of my roommates woke up, and we shared a fun conversation and some really heartfelt laughs that I wouldn’t have had if I had gone to the library early. The Lord took what seemed to be a poor decision to sleep in and not study before my class and made it a memorable moment with people I care about.
When we choose God in this moment, He is in every decision: the good, the bad, and the in-between. And that is all we need.