“Before you decide to jump that fence, make absolutely sure that the grass is indeed greener.”
When we find that we want to make significant changes in our lives—and then find that we need to justify that decision to ourselves and to others affected by it—our tendency is to gravitate towards questions like, “Why can’t I? What’s wrong with it? What’s the big deal?” These questions, however, evince a perspective that is limited to only one small sliver of our daily lives and experiences.
Questions such as, “What’s wrong with it?” take into account only the legal* facet of our existence. “Why can’t I?” is simply a legal question. In more blatant terms, the real questions being asked here are, “What rule am I breaking? What law tells me I can’t do this? Why do I have to consider this a moral issue?” Once again, however, all of these questions pertain only to the “regulated” side of our daily experiences—to the part of us that keeps a careful list of “do’s and don’t’s,” memorizes charts and tables, demands others do the same, and insists that everyone just “bug off” if “there’s no rule against it.”
But we were not made to be calculators! Human life is a multi-faceted thing. We are not just creatures of law. We are moral beings, relational beings, embodied beings, temporal beings, the list could go on and on. Every important decision we make touches on all of these aspects of our lives, and the questions we ask as we deliberate change should reflect that same polyvalence.
The challenge, then, is to replace our limited, “rule-oriented” questions with a much more robust set of considerations, one that takes into account as many sides of our human experience as possible. Questions such as, “Why should I do this? What will its effect be on those around me? On my relationship with God? How does it align with my current set of priorities? Is there any chance I might regret this decision in the future?” Not until we have exhausted such questions to the best of our ability—and sought guidance from the Lord and from others we trust—do we really have a chance of determining whether the grass is indeed greener, whether deliberate change is for the best.
* For today’s purposes, I am grouping all types of laws that affect our lives—Biblical, institutional, societal, etc.—under the single category of “legality.”