The Anxiety of Choice

One semester in college, I earned an A-minus in private organ lessons. That minus annoyed me: I practiced my required hours and did what I was told to do. But I’d hit a stage at which I wasn’t told what to do on a crucial point: namely, how to set the stops for a piece. I had to choose for myself: Viole or flute? Trumpet or krummhorn? I balked. Hence the minus.

Despite their predictable chafing for freedom—the freedom to make choices—students often get stuck at the same place I did. They don’t actually want to make choices; they want someone else to make choices for them. This creates an obvious problem for discerning, let alone responding to, a vocation. In this post I will suggest some common reasons that we reject freedom of choice as well as some theological and practical means for overcoming these obstacles to embrace that freedom, making vocation possible.

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