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Peace Without Answers

January 7, 2009

“You’re not the only one.”

More than anything else, this has been my comfort over the past few days. My post of “The Language of Someday” released a flood of insight and response from friends and family that was encouraging beyond what I can explain.  For that, before I say anything else, I want to say thank you.

In a certain sense, while I am still sitting here, waiting for God to sneak up behind me and yell in my ear, “THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO,” I am starting to become more comfortable and accepting of the silence. I almost feel like a hamster in a cage, running backwards on my wheel, while God sits there, watching me, trying not to laugh and curious to see what this funny little human will try next. In the midst of all this waiting, I have come to see that I’m not the only one holding my lungs inward, in one giant breath, waiting for the release of pressure and hesitation. While it seems to be a particular affliction with the 20-somethings, countless people from here to there and everywhere have no idea what their life is supposed to look like or what they are supposed to do. As Christians, it’s sometimes easier to stall in our fear and wait with bated breath for divine intervention, all the while secretly hoping that He doesn’t really answer, because it will probably be something we don’t want to hear anyway. The excuse of “I’m waiting for God’s leading” just sounds so much nicer than “I’m terrified that I’ll make the wrong choice, so I’ll just stay here.”

What is the point then, of God giving us brains and for that matter, free will? In His love and desire for us to grow into the people He created us to be, God has given us intellect, discernment and the ability to make choices, even when those choices turn out to be mistakes. It’s not always going to be lightning shooting down from the sky, spelling out exactly what we were waiting for (though granted, for some people, it is). Sometimes it’s just crickets. In the sphere of the Almighty, sometimes silence IS the answer. At some point, we have to be willing and brave enough to try our own strength, to grasp onto the talents and abilities that God has blessed us with and take that step, that leap of faith even if it means falling flat on our face.

It’s not always about answers. We sit here, hands stretched out, expectantly waiting for God to dispense the answer of our choice, like some giant cosmic Pez dispenser, some of us hoping for grape, others for cherry, others for lemon (though really, who likes lemon?). I’ve lain in bed, night after night, week after week, praying for God’s guidance to tell me where to go in my life, what the next step will be. If I just pray hard enough and wait long enough, eventually my road forward will become clear and God will show me the exact right way to go, conveniently cleared of mistakes, confusion and potholes. If I just hope faithfully enough, He will give me answers.

But God isn’t that neat, tidy and packaged up. We’ve managed to forget that He is still the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Beginning and the End. I huff and puff and whine that I don’t get it and don’t understand, but in the light of all honesty, why would I? In one of my favorite books, CS Lewis asks the question, “How can we expect to see face to face until we have faces?” In essence, how can we put our human demands on a divine God and expect it to make sense?

It is at this point that we face the reality of having to make our own decision. Everything He asks of us is a choice — a choice between love and hatred, a choice between compassion and apathy, a choice between action and cynicism, a choice between knowledge and ignorance, a choice between decision and regret. Every moment of our lives we make choices that are given no cosmic instruction, choices that chip and chisel us into the people we are becoming. God does not leave us without guides, of course, but we must constantly remind ourselves that we are not puppets on some great universal string. At the times when it would be most convenient to have God calling all the shots, He is asking us to partner with Him in living out our lives. He believes in us enough to let us try our strength, even when we might be wrong. We are asked to follow Christ even when we’re not sure where His footsteps are leading us and if we’re even doing it right. God would rather us muster the faith to put one foot after another than to be dragged behind Him like a limp bundle of sticks.

I am learning that a lack of answers might be the answer. I am learning that at some point, I have to pluck up the backbone to do something unknown or face living an entire life of sighs and regrets. I am learning that even in the deepest of mistakes, darkness and confusion, there is always redemption, light and hope, even when we don’t understand it.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    January 7, 2009 5:23 pm

    I think I have found peace in the silence as well. I still consider myself a “baby” christian. I am still taking steps each day to learn about God and to find myself in that process; find what I believe, what I enjoy, what I love. And I think your totally right-with each decision we make we are formed into this amazing follower of Christ setting examples to others. At this point in my young little life, I have NO CLUE what God has planned for me, and what exactly he wants me to be doing with my time here. But each day I’m so thankful I am here to enjoy it, and I try to grow with him and be the “salt” in others lives. If the smallest thing I can do here is to be a witness then I am going to do that while I figure out what else I can do 🙂
    Thank you for another amazing blog!
    ~Amanda

  2. diestheswan permalink
    January 7, 2009 8:04 pm

    what of those who feel as if their choices are right and true yet are void of a relationship with god? what if ones personal peace is found outside of god?

  3. Caroline permalink*
    January 8, 2009 8:02 am

    Amanda,

    I think we are all of us still “baby” Christians, hesitantly taking step after step, testing them, seeing what works and doesn’t work, trying to simply be a good example of what Christ’s life looks like. I love to see your eagerness and joy in finding the Lord…keep going, sister! 🙂

    Let’s get that drink soon!

  4. Caroline permalink*
    January 8, 2009 8:07 am

    Diestheswan,

    I cannot say that your choices would be any less right or true outside of being a Christian. I have grown up as one my whole life, so I have a hard time trying to explain how I process life without it being a part of my relationship with God.

    If you have found a personal peace in your own way, I cannot tell you it’s wrong. I hope that it is everything it should be. I think Jesus is a pretty amazing guy, but I won’t push Him on anyone.

    Peace, joy and truth are exploding all over the place in our world, even when it might not be very obvious or public. I hope that everyone, Christian or not, is recognizing it for what it is.

    Thanks for reading! I truly appreciate each reader and insight.

    Caroline

  5. RachelPoo permalink
    January 8, 2009 11:43 am

    I like lemon!

  6. Caroline permalink*
    January 8, 2009 12:31 pm

    You would like lemon, weirdo. :p

    Just kidding. Lemon isn’t so bad sometimes…cherry is just naturally superior.

    Actually, I don’t like Pez at all.

  7. January 9, 2009 5:07 pm

    There seems to be a lucky few who know exactlywhat they’re called to or made for, but the rest of us do what you’re doing: hope, pray, try, wait. I have a saying posted in my cubicle at work (origins unknown): “The pain of failure is not as bad as the pain of regret.” Regret comes from doing nothing–never trying, never taking a risk. Avoid it at all costs!

    But beware; trying and failing is painful too. About 10 years ago I realized I was just sitting around and waiting for things to happen, for my dreams to drop in my lap–so I made some decisions. I identified my top 3 dreams and aggressively pursued them. I worked hard, I spent money, I left my comfort zone, I kept at it for years… And I failed at all of them. It hurt, and it still hurts. But I’m convinced of the truth of that saying quoted above–I think not trying would’ve hurt even worse.

    And I also have a strange sense of contentment now, because I can look myself in the mirror and honestly say, “I tried. I gave it my best shot.” How many people can say that?

    So my (unasked for) advice is to prayerfully consider what you want and what you want to do, talk it over with people you trust, weigh the costs, and if you sense a green light then go after it! Just remember, there are no promises, and not everyone’s dreams come true.

    But yours might! And at the very least, you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror when you’re 50 and feel content.

    (To be fair, I should also point out that free advice is worth everything you pay for it–so take my words with a grain of salt. I’ve been known to be completely wrong)

    P.S. Sorry to take up so much space, but I also wanted to thank you for earlier recommending Bryson’s “Notes From a Small Island.” I’m halfway through it and it’s delightful (not typically a very masculine word but very descriptive in this case)! I’m sitting in our company cafeteria at lunch, alone, reading it and laughing, and getting some odd looks!

  8. Caroline permalink*
    January 9, 2009 6:11 pm

    I always enjoy reading your comments — it’s true, I would rather have failure than regret. At this point, I am still doing what you advise — pray, talking it over, researching etc. The change I am considering is a move overseas and I really want to do it, but am also a big chicken. We’ll see what happens.

    So glad you’re enjoying “Notes from a Small Island!” Bryson’s stuff IS delightful — he’s written many books and others I have enjoyed nearly as much. (“Notes” is still my favorite.) Keep laughing…the odd looks are worth the catharsis.

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