Keeping your options open?

“When we start understanding the difference between options and obligations, the tasks we do take on can bring us great joy.”

That’s a line from “Cereal For Dinner,” a book about Moms finding ways to manage life while battling illness. Oddly, a discussion with my husband brought this passage home to me.

We were discussing his work as a software developer, work he genuinely enjoys and is quite good at it.  He was frank: development jobs are leaving North America faster than a Pacific salmon run. Given our responsibilities, continuing down the development path — no matter how rewarding it has been — simply isn’t an option. (Unless we want to move to India.)

Adults have obligations. We can’t do whatever we want. I understand this, having stood at my own options-obligations crossroads a while back.

After years in job obscurity, I was given the opportunity to become a star. In my galaxy at the time, “star” meant better pay and higher profile, potentially award-winning assignments. It also meant longer hours, more travel, added frustrations.

At that point in my life, I was a married woman with a child I wanted to read stories and tuck in at night. So I walked away from an attractive option to embrace an obligation.

I don’t regret the decision. It’s brought me great joy. When we make certain choices in life, other options are closed to us — or should be.

Christians make a decision to follow Jesus and must decide daily whether to deny ourselves options that lead in other directions. It goes against human nature. We like to keep our options open.

Accepting limitations in major life decisions is especially tough when we’ve grown accustomed to multiple options on simple stuff. High fiber, low-sugar, multi-grain or whole grain cereal?  Orange juice that’s low pulp, no pulp, lots of pulp, low sugar or low acid?

Paul, who wrote a big chunk of the New Testament, knew what it was to have options. He came to this conclusion: Everything is permissable, but not everything is beneficial. We’re not to be mastered by anything, even tempting options.

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