As a preacher, I’m always interested in words and phrases, especially when those phrases spark new ways of thinking about old ideas. A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to a new phrase as we sat around a campfire and he played and sang for my family. After a certain song was over I asked him about the repetitive phrase, “It’s hard sayin’, not knowin’,” and he told me that it was a common statement up North where he was raised.
The song that the phrase was in was about a man who kept finding himself in a situation in which he had to respond with an answer, including giving directions to a stranger, leading a platoon of soldiers out of harm’s way, being asked by his girlfriend if he loved her, and even to St. Peter at the time of his death. But, instead of skirting the truth or even making something up, he answered honestly “It’s hard sayin’, not knowin’.”
As much as I appreciate the honesty of this unnamed man, I see how his honesty kept him from making some major decisions. I also understand that his honesty was meant for comedic effect, and not as a recommended response for life’s problems. Even though it is sometimes appropriate to say, “It’s hard sayin’, not knowin’” there are so many decisions that we make, and if we were to apply this phrase at every turn, our life would come to a complete halt.
Truth be told, we’re not very often allowed the freedom to say “It’s hard sayin’, not knowin’.” Our friends, family, employers, and people at the checkout line in the stores expect us to make decisions on a daily basis that affect not only our life, but the lives of countless others. If we started thinking about the impact that a single choice we make could have on the world around us, it’s easy to see how our decision making would easily become paralyzed.
So, have you ever worried about making a decision? How do you know that it was the right one? What if there were a better choice? What if the only choices you have are bad ones? Is it ever ‘hard sayin’, not knowin’?
As Disciples of Jesus Christ we have even more questions to worry about when we are thinking, planning, and deciding: What does my faith say about this decision? How do I know that this decision or choice is in God’s will for me?
Knowing that we have all struggled with decision making at some point in our life, I would like to begin the New Year looking at these questions and our Christian response to them in a new sermon series entitled, “Hard Sayin’, Not Knowin’: How to Be Certain in an Uncertain World.”