18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19)
Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!
It seems to me that Joseph was caught in a trap of trying to choose between two options. I know that I often fall into that trap! In the book Crucial Conversations1 the authors describe a theory about ‘fools choice’. Although they are teaching about healthy dialogue skills, I think that their theory can be applied more broadly. In summary, they say that when we consider what we want (possible outcomes) and if there seem to be only two options we are then in danger of feeling trapped into choosing between two less than ideal outcomes. This is what they mean by ‘fools choice’. They suggest that it is possible to break free from the ‘rock and hard place’ scenario by, “clarify[ing] what you don’t want, add it to what you do want, and ask your brain to start searching for healthy options…”2 Or, in other words, look for the third option. That’s a technique I try to use a lot.
It seems to me, though, that Joseph was trying to do the right thing, by Mary, as well as himself. That is a tricky balance to get right, isn’t it?
1 Crucial Conversations, Patterson et al, 2012, McGraw-Hill Books
2 Crucial Conversations, Patterson et al, 2012, McGraw-Hill Books, Page 49