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Dear Abby,

I have some bad news and some good news.

Bad news: The Bible is silent on a lot of things that will be really important to you.

Good news: In the silence is freedom.

The Bible does have all the answers for life’s most significant questions. Make no mistake about that. But in between birth and death and salvation are only about one million little and big decisions you’ll have to make about how to live your life.

If He gave us a guidebook for everything: type of food to eat, friends to have, parenting philosophy, daily schedule, what to wear, we’d not have to wonder. But guess what? He practically did that for the Israelites (see Leviticus), and it did not lead to peace, joy and intimacy. No, instead they were rather faithless, grumpy, and discontent.

Ah, there is the rub, Abby. Freedom requires more faith. And stretching our scrawny spiritual necks out to exercise that greater faith produces deeper intimacy and trust in Christ, in the goodness of the Father.

I can think of two errors to avoid as you approach life, dearest girl. One is to always doubt yourself and your choices. Thinly labeled as low self-esteem and lack of confidence, it is in essence a lack of faith and trust in God and His providence. Have nothing to do with these shackles, love. I’ll do my earnest best to see that you don’t, having been familiarly acquainted with them myself.

But the second error is equally damaging. This is to think you have found the only way to live. Oh, you’ll know when you brush up against someone like this because you will walk away feeling 2 1/2 centimeters tall and you will wonder what just happened. In truth, they may have found some good ideas, wisdom, or knowledge but unfortunately they possess those gems with an arrogant self-righteousness, as though they have earned their way to victory.

Knowledge has puffed them up and they have missed the love boat. They make you feel small because they have climbed the throne of legalism in their own heady strength and from that height, they peer down at you contemptuously.

Abby, there are a million ways to live your life.

Gifts, philosophies, talents, finances, parenting styles, clothing styles, love languages provide the variety, friction, and color that make our world beautiful as it is difficult. Live and let live. Devote yourself to holiness, but always with the knowledge that it is by the grace of God you desire it, and it is Christ’s holiness you pursue, not your own.

Ah, my dear, you have such a tender, sensitive heart. I know you will make room in it to let others be themselves. Just don’t forget to give yourself freedom, too.