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The tyranny of the salad dressing aisle

So many choices. So little time. Should we really be grateful?

I wheel my cart down the aisle slowly, perusing my options. I know what I want, at least I think I do. Until I see that the flavor I am looking for comes in no fat, low fat, and high test. There are also creamy and oil-based varieties, and at least half a dozen manufacturers. How do I choose?

Do I sort? by color, brand, fat content, flavor? The store has usually done a bit of this for me, thank goodness. That’s not because they love me, actually, but because they want me to buy. If I am overwhelmed I may just throw up my hands and leave the store empty-handed. That will not do – for them.

They know us. We’re shoppers. We come with a list in hand and an idea in mind. We want to check everything off, but deciding is tough. If there were just one of everything, it wouldn’t be. But that is not the world in which we live. We must choose. And choose rightly.

Why? Because there is cost. And it’s not just the number on the price tag. It’s the cost of “You got the wrong one!” “Ew, I don’t like that!” These weigh very heavily, especially when we are trying to keep everyone happy. And we have limited resources.

If I didn’t, I guess I could just bring home one of each and let them choose. Pass the tyranny on to them and call it freedom of choice. But I don’t. I stand and struggle under the weight of “making everyone happy.” Wanting to insure my success, I work backward. Calculating. Comparing. Sorting and selecting. Maybe in desperation I just pick one. Maybe in fear I take home an armful.

Either way, I do not win. The store wins. The product wins. And inevitably, someone at my table will be less than satisfied.

  • This isn’t what I wanted
  • This isn’t what I expected
  • This doesn’t taste right

Still, we love them. It’s amazing what happens when we sit around the table to partake of the same meal with the understanding that no one leaves the kitchen until the dishes are done. Conversation turns to more important things and the salad dressing takes a back seat.

It is amazing how important it seemed just hours before, when I was hosting the dinner. And how much it changes when Love takes over.

Just One Big True/False Test

I read, “God has put both a “yes” and a “no” into our heads.”

We call this free will. The option to choose him or not. A real risk on His part, if you ask me. But looking at the world I live in I need this option. To discern a yes to truth and love and a no to illusion and sin. How foresighted of Him.

He didn’t give us  a multiple choice test. Simply true/false. Simply – ha. Have you ever taken a true/false test? It used to drive me nuts trying to decide whether an answer was wholly true or wholly false might. My mind always re-routed to the…”well, there might be an exception.” On those days I might have preferred the multiple choice version.  And, oh boy, try designing a true/false test! Students constantly think up ways to make something you know is true into something that they consider false. Something I hadn’t thought of when I wrote the question.

And this is the way my world often looks to me, not black and white but shades of gray. Not even multiple choice, pick the right answer from among these, but more like the advanced  version with multiple correct answers. ‘All of the above’ or ‘just a and b.’ You really had to know your subject to do well on those tests. And, as far as life goes, I’m pretty sure I’m not well enough versed to do well on that test.

But true/false, yes/no, God is like that. I don’t think wishy washy is part of His nature. So, how come things look so gray? I wonder if God, knowing my confusion, invites me into the truth via  true/false decisions of a continuous kind. Subtle decisions, such gradual movements in my reasoning and action that I hardly know them myself. But He knows them. Because the smallest thing is not small to Him, and never is it negligible.

What if God has posed life as a constant progression through true and false? An infinite true/false test. So many black and white decisions, in fact, that we don’t discern our turning from-to, a gradual change of course composed of nearly infinitesimal corrections that it make it seem like a smooth line. Perhaps this is why Paul said, “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Incremental change, but oh so important the direction, and absolutely essential not to second guess.

My teachers always told me, “Go with your first answer.” Perhaps that initial inclination was the Spirit in me speaking up. Of course my common sense or my (oh so) human nature was generally right there to question or reconsider. And the world weighs in with a loud voice.

True or false. I suspect that God has provided one correct answer for every question. Gratefully, He invites us to go on to the next question – a lifetime of them. In fact, He insists. Otherwise, I would probably still be arguing the exceptions to the last one. God, in His grace, says “You’re done with that one. What about this?” And somehow, over time, we find we’ve traveled a long way from where we started.

This gives me hope when I look at a world so full of dissension, hurt and wrong-doing – opposing parties both claiming God sides with them. Black and white seems part of our human limitation. But it helps me to think that each time I ask God to help me choose yes or no in my black and white world I’m allowing Him to change a wrong in me to a right. Imagine how clearly He sees it all from the perspective of eternal light and living color.

I guess yes or no really does cover it.

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