I caught part of the movie He’s Just Not That Into You on television last night. I’m a sucker for movies like that. Invariably in movies like that, there’s a guy who thinks he’s deromanticized the whole pursuit of love. He thinks that love is just about being with people who you like being around. At this point in the movie, he’s actually correct. Invariably, said guy ends up realizing that there is a huge romantic element to love and begins to think that he was originally wrong. Hilarity and such ensues, and the happy ending comes when he finally conforms to the romantic sign-driven love of popular culture.
The problem with these movies is that they are lies. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a romantic element to love. There is. Just not in a Wuthering Heights sort of way. Movies like HJNTIY teach us to wait for signs and to look for signs where there aren’t any. If there’s anyone guilty of waiting around for signs, though, it’s definitely me. I love “signs.” I love dissecting every little thing that goes on around me, wondering what it means. And I ignored a relationship with God for a long time because I was waiting for a “sign.”
I have a friend who doesn’t buy into the whole sign thing. And he’s great. Instead of sitting around, waiting for an answer to a problem to come to him, he keeps himself busy. He chases all of the paths he’s interested in until it becomes strikingly clear what the right decision is. I asked him once how he discerns God’s will. And like most people, he said he prayed regularly about things that were bugging him, but he also moved. It’s hard to hear a lesson when we aren’t doing something. You can read about math in a book, but if you never actually worked the problems, you would never learn how to use it.
I think that’s how life is. We expect God to divinely inspire us, but the people who are living great lives are also the ones who are risking great mistakes. As time goes on, it becomes easier to figure out what the right, godly decision is. But it is very rarely simply handed to us.
Where are you moving?
I could hardly agree with you more. While it’s entirely possible to wait for signs, it’s far more productive to act without divine inspirations. We may make mistakes from time to time, but if we try to do the right thing, it usually turns out okay. For years I struggled with interpreting God’s wishes. I’d ask for confirmation that I understood Him properly. Still, I figured that, like the physical laws, what was right and wrong was either always right or always wrong and I could live by that without waiting for God to reply. I want to leave you with one question: if you knew in your heart that something was wrong, but you thought God might be trying to tell you it’s okay, which one wins? What you know in your heart, or unclear signs from God? It may not be the answer for everyone, but I decided to follow my heart.
Thanks for reading, Tim! To answer your question, I don’t think our true notions of right and wrong ever really conflict with God’s wishes. Because those notions, I think, come from Him. I am aware that there are other ethical systems, but very few take into consideration the concept of moral feeling. I think, in the end, that moral feeling is divinely inspired and so when we look for divine inspiration, most of the time we need not look further than those moral feelings.