Miller: The problem of choice

Oct 28, 2019 by

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“I don’t want to call God an idiot or anything,” I told Ivan, “but if I had created the world, I would have done things differently.”

Lucinda J. Miller

Miller

Someone I love made a choice that hurt me, and that is why I said it.

“I guess he could have made us all puppets,” Ivan said.

Puppets, yes. But happy puppets. I would be OK with that.

“When I get to heaven, I would like to tell God everything he did wrong,” I said, “but I’ll be too scared. He’s so big.”

“You might be emboldened,” Ivan said.

I hope I am emboldened. I would like to have a frank discussion with God. If you were going to create people, I might tell him, you need to be responsible. Human beings are hazardous materials — like dynamite or anthrax or methamphetamine — and ought to be kept bottled and boxed and away from heat so they won’t explode.

The one thing you absolutely should not allow them — ever — is choice. Choice is twice as hazardous a substance as humanity. People hurt themselves with substances like these. Worse, people hurt each other.

If I had created the world, I might say, I would have done it right. I would have put people in pretty pink and purple boxes under pastel skies. The only choices they could make would be good ones, and the only emotions they would feel — ever — would be joy and peace and love and contentment.

Wouldn’t you find that boring, though? I can imagine God will ask. Wouldn’t you consider that an insult to your intelligence, to be placed in a creation that has no grounding in reality? There’s a world out here, honey. There are real forces like good and evil and real choices with real consequences. Your small experience on your tiny planet has only prepared you for what is.

But I would be way ahead of God. Don’t you get it? I might tell him. You are the Creator, and we only have what you give us. Of course now we think we want choice, because you made us that way, but you could have created us to be content with soft boxes and pretty pillows.

We would have been happy in our reality, and we would never have needed to experience pain. You could have given us happiness. Instead you gave us choice.

I wonder what God would say to me then. God knows a lot more about much bigger things than I do, so it will probably be something I wouldn’t expect. I think his words would blow my mind and give me a bigger perspective, but that he’d use such simple terms I could understand him. At least, that has often been my experience when I read his words in the Bible.

In my human imagination, though, maybe God would say something like this:

Luci, you say that you love me, and I believe that you do. But if I had created you so that you could not choose to love me, that bond of mystery and miracle couldn’t legitimately be called love. It would have to be called something else. Would you really want to make do with something else instead of love?

And maybe, if God thought I would pull out my old argument of, “Well, if you had created me to be satisfied with something else, that wouldn’t be an issue,” he would add: There’s a world out here, Luci, and I created you to be useful in it. To be useful, though, I need you to be an adult, not a pampered pooch with ribbons in her hair.

We can do great things together, you and I, because I created you not just for happiness but for purpose. Are you ready for this?

And how could I reply to that? A pep talk from my Creator?

Yes, I would say.

Lucinda J. Miller lives in Rusk County, Wis., and chose to give her life to God when she was very young. More recently, she chose to blend her life with Ivan’s and in November will move to Maryland as Ms. Kinsinger. She is the author of Anything But Simple: My Life as a Mennonite and blogs at lucindajmiller.com.


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