Just over a year ago, I was driving home during a huge storm with wind, rain and some hail. I remember thinking, “Man, I hope my car doesn’t get hail damage.” Then as I turned onto my street and headed towards my house it happened. I hit what I at first thought was just a huge puddle as I saw a huge splash. But then all of a sudden I realized that instead I had driven directly into a flash flood. It was up over my bumper and my engine stalled.
It’s amazing what goes through your head. At first I tried to restart my car – um that wasn’t happening. Then I rolled down my window to survey the situation. It was not good. I shut the window because we wouldn’t want the leather to get wet. Water started seeping in. (For free – if you’ve ever wondered how long you would have in your car if you drove into say a lake, before water filled up the inside of your car . . . answer. . . not very dang long.)
All this to say, my car was completely totaled. Water got in everywhere. I was sad as I really liked my car (which was paid for) and planned on driving it for about another 100,000 miles.
Fortunately Nationwide really was on my side and gave me a very fair amount for my car. But now, I needed to find a new car. So I of course had to set up some qualifications for this car. I wanted a car similar to my old car with the same features (heated leather seats, v-6 engine, sporting looking, lots of leg and head room, moon roof, at least 30mpg, etc). But I had some restrictions. I was committed to not having a car payment for example.
So I set out to find “The Car”. Shopping for a car is sort of crazy these days. Almost all dealers have multiple locations and websites. You can go online and search cars, values, compare and contrast. But of course you need to go test drive it. This is a big decision. I mean whatever I get, I’m planning on driving a long time.
I did it all. I booked marked cars online. I went to a ton of dealers. I gave my number to dealers who would call me if something came in close to what I was looking for. I test drove easily 15-20 cars. I almost pulled the trigger a couple of times but decided no, or the car was sold. Once I had one that I really liked but I couldn’t afford it.
Finally, at a dealer two hours away, I found a car that worked and a dealer who worked with me. I had my car. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid choice. I still like my car a year later.
Friends, that was searching for car. Now find go and find a spouse.
We live in a world with a ridiculous amount of choice in all categories. Groceries, restaurants, items at restaurants, Cable TV, hundreds of channels. Really there is a choice for everything. We’ve bought into the idea that more choice is good. But with more choice comes more confusion, indecision, panic, regret, and anxiety*. No where is this more true than our current dating culture.
When you go back in history, our choices for a spouse were much more limited. For most of history you had basically no choice. You married who you were arranged to marry. But even in recent history, you married who you knew. You grew up in one geographical area, met someone you were attracted to, and tried to make it happen. You maybe had a few choices and comparisons.
Today because of travel, technology and urban explosion, we live in a world where there is always someone new to meet. You could literally spend your life going on first dates. And if there are all these choices, then there must be the right choice. That one perfect choice.
Our Christian dating culture just exasperates this whole idea. You are looking for the right one. Not only are looking for someone you are attracted to and get along with, but there are all these criteria. Do they love Jesus? Are you equally yoked? Are they THE ONE God has for you. Talk about pressure.
Throw in the fear of choosing wrong (this is for life after all) and we often end up paralyzing ourselves. We have so much choice that many of us can’t choose.
The question becomes how the heck do you know? How do you choose?
Am I suggesting we throw out our qualifiers and criteria? Not exactly. Am I saying attraction doesn’t count? Heck no. But what I am saying is that we can’t live in fear of choosing wrong. We need to hold it loosely to be sure. Its to our advantage to know that we can walk away, that we don’t have to choose a person. But at the same time there is no perfect person and no perfect decision.
I want to talk more about how to choose and what I think a couple of qualifiers that I personally think everyone needs to consider. But for today I want to leave you with a couple of questions.
How has this plethora of choices affected you? Have you ever been paralyzed by the fear of choosing wrong? Have you accidentally convinced yourself that there is the one perfect choice?
Do you want to know the craziest part? Love itself is a choice.
* For a great article on choice in our culture read this from The Economist.