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Monday, January 19, 2009

Peanuuuuut. Peanut Butter. And Choices.


Manhattan is filled with little boutique-y everything. Custom jeans, home-made stationary, basement curred meats, and even designer shoe laces can all be found in quaint Greenwich Village boutiques. But I never would have guessed that our boutique obsession would be peanut butter. Taryn and I currently have four different kinds of peanut butter in our cupboard.

Each morning when Taryn wakes me up to make her breakfast (that's right wives...I make her breakfast every morning) I get to choose what I want smeared on my slice of whole wheat bread. Do I want something a little sweeter? Chunky? Cinnamon and raisin? Chocolate even? Its quite a joy to have a choice in peanut butter. No longer must I settle for the staleness of a Fat Free Jiffy or the artificial taste of Peter Pan. No no no. I have found a peanut butter boutique that grants me a great deal of possibilities. For this, I am eternally grateful to you Peanut Butter & CO.

And yet I rarely express gratitude for my non-peanuty choices. It's quite the opposite actually. I snarl and complain when I have a plethora of choices.

Really, its like a multiple choice exam. Remember when your multiple choice exam would hit your desk. The first thing you did was look to see how many choices were on each question. Sigh. Only four choices. No biggie. But then you turn the page and discover that there are now 6 choices per question? You immediately begin to panic. More choices?! Does the scantron even have room for 6 choices!!? Is Mr. Crawford insane?!

Life for me is not much different. I dread multiple choices. I dread that the freedom to chose requires something of me. I would much rather an outside source, a boss, or economic conditions determine my fate.

I don't mean that. But I do.

Is this not the tension of freedom? Be it "freedom in Christ", the freedom granted by our democracy, or the freedom to chose your peanut butter (a laughable comparison, I know)...a choice is a blessing...and it is also a burden. It is something to be grateful for, a privilege to acknowledge. But it also requires a great deal of us.

Today we celebrate a man who called our country to freedom. But he spoke not just of freedom for African Americans, he demanded African American responsibility. He taught that with freedom comes the ability to choose and with the privilege of choice comes the hard work of choosing well. While freedom is a blessing, it requires that we work to choose what is good, beautiful, and true.

I find this work exhausting. Unless its peanut butter.

But I will not forfeit my freedom for the alternative. Rather, when confronted with my freedoms, I hope to choose gratitude and wisdom over escapism and easy answers.

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