Several years ago I read the 2004 book entitled “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. The story began with the author sharing his experience of going to The Gap to replace his ten year-old-worn-out jeans, expecting to get another of the same style, be done in five minutes and out the door. Instead he was bombarded with almost a hundred choices of varying fits, sizes and prices. To add insult to injury, the pair he wanted replaced was discontinued. He encountered so many choices he was in fact paralyzed by the options, unable to make a selection and left the store empty-handed.
The book then went on to give additional examples of situations where too many choices leads to the inability to make decisions for fear of making the wrong ones. Too many cell phone carriers, countless options for doctors, numerous types of breads and the list goes on. This abundance of choice becomes overwhelming and actually creates a problem called “over choice” a phrase coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 novel Future Shock leading to stress and anxiety. Choice overload creates is problematic and renders individuals helpless to make decisions. More is not necessarily better.
In my mind, I return to simpler times when we had one television channel, my mother baked our bread and there was one family doctor in the area so the choices were made for us, taking away the element of “over choice”. No stress there. There were really only two types of jeans where I grew up and they were Levi’s and Wranglers and your mother bought them and you wore them. Again, no stress.
It was then I began thinking about my life in the present and if there was anything left that wasn’t more complicated and stressful. My first thought was my faith in the Lord. There is no choice overload in this decision. The option is very plain and satisfying and we never worry that we are making the wrong choice. God loves us unconditionally and we know that. Less is more. We are reminded of this simple choice in Hebrews 13:8 with these perfect and comforting words.
“Jesus Christ never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.” We can feel peace in this knowledge.