Tell Me What to Do: On Asking Someone Else.

“I wonder if the way we can’t make decisions is like how other people pray,” my Someone said.

We had a long week of making one hard decision, and most of the time we weren’t sure if we were right.  We soothed ourselves by taking right and wrong off the table– I tried to tell him it’s not so much that we made the wrong decision.  We just made decision. He was not consoled.  Neither was I.

“I guess it would be easier if we had God telling us what to do, too,” I said.


I like the way it looked on other people, sometimes.  I imagine it to be a small room with the person fervently praying, beads of sweat and tears pooling around their temple and the corner of their mouths, maybe an indistinguishable mantra coming from the strain of their face.  Knees to the floor, hands curled around each other in that classic Puritan sort of way– and then God shows up.  Maybe he casually shuffles in the back door.  Maybe he just appears.  But without so much of a consideration for the scene, he taps the person on their right shoulder.  They open one eye and peer over at God.  And then they hear it– in a voice just above a whisper and just below a full mutter–

You should totally buy the house with the extra bedroom.  It’s super rad, and you can totally justify it by saying you’re going to use it to house visiting missionaries or something.  It doesn’t matter– just tell them I sent you.  That should cover it.

And then God’s gone.  And the person gets to leave the room and face the rest of the world with confidence: God is leading me to buy this house.

God is always leading people to go to Africa or homeschool their kids or take the bus or buy a frappaccino.  He seems ever interested in what color shirts we are wearing, who we are marrying, and our choice of candidate.  He is invested in buying raw organic and not stepping on cracks to break our mothers’ backs and whether or not we have a license to carry our guns.  This is why I suspect s/he doesn’t really have time to tell me what to do when I really need it.  He’s too busy telling everyone around me whether to go on a diet.


But then again, whether or not I should or shouldn’t get a puppy shouldn’t be up to God, anyway.  Because if s/he tells me to go for it, and then the dog pisses in the back seat, I’ll have to complain to God about the choice s/he made.  But maybe that’s the point, after all.  If God is always leading everyone to do or not do what they want or don’t want, we never have to be responsible– we never have to consult our conscience or make hard decisions or feel at all like we’ve failed or succeeded.  We just get to rest good naturedly in God’s will.

My Someone and I were still wrestling with our hard decision until this morning.  We may have come to an agreement at last.  But somewhere, between when it all started and when it was decided, we got to look each other square in the eye and say, “Is this going to be okay for you?  Are you going to be better or worse for this?”  Maybe that’s what we lose in having God tell us what to do.  We are so busy closing our eyes that we forget to look at each other.  We forget to look at ourselves.  We are straining our ears for the voice of God so that we miss the voices already penetrating our sonic space.  We lose the chance to ask each other how we can better love.

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