The Power to Choose
Our entire existence is the culmination of a series of large and small choices that shape our character and determine our station in life. Good choices, that can lead to great places with positive and lasting effects, or not so good choices leading to a life of regret and bitterness. Choice is the fuel that propels us either to the heights of success or the depths of despair.
My Godmother fondly reminds all who have the pleasure of her acquaintance, that “you live by the choices you make”. I’d heard her make this declaration for so many years, and while it seemed simple on the surface, I could not believe that it was true. I believed that my life was dictated by the wrongs inflicted upon me in my past; therefore, my life was the summation of what was done to me, not by me. I believed the environment I was born into was to blame for my thought process, and that my actions were the only logical response to that environment. I was the victim of other people’s bad behavior, but like many, my greatest slave master was the expectations of my family. Many of you may find yourself in this same cycle of viewing your life as only what happens to you. You are constantly playing the blame game, and not taking ownership for your current circumstances.
I’m not suggesting that the issue of life are all easy to navigate. Life is filled with legitimate struggles that can have a significant impact on who we become as adults and how we respond to our environment. While these struggles may cause each of us to experience various challenges, I have discovered that
Life is less about what has happened to you and more about how you respond to what has happened to you.
This lesson did not manifest overnight but was revealed through several months of deep self-evaluation. My husband and I had just relocated for his career, and I was in between jobs. I was trying to make a decision about my next step. Since I was out of work, I watched a lot of HGTV and was inspired to take on the task of painting and decorating our new home. I spent most of my days alone, painting and sanding every wall in the house. If you have ever done this type of work, then you can attest that it provides plenty of time to think. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for some soul searching. So as I painted, I poured my heart out to God about my life. At that time I was not experiencing what I’d imagined my life would be. I wanted something more, so I confessed my frustrations, failures and false starts to God.
As I laid myself bare, crying as much as I painted, I began to look back over my life and pinpoint the barriers that were preventing me from experiencing everything I desired. In truth, I was looking for someone or something to blame. But as I looked back through the years, evaluating my life, I found a common denominator to all of my problems; Me. I was present for every decision that had lead me to my current circumstances. It was then that my Godmother’s statement popped into my head “you live by the choices you make”. It all began to make sense.
I was responsible for my choices.
I had lived my life, like many people, stuck in the thought process that I had no control. I was only responding to what was done to me. In spite of what happened to me, I had to accept that I chose the response. Thus, I bore some responsibility for the outcome. This lead me to a simple truth:
No matter what is done to me, the only thing that I can control is how I respond to it.
As I began to examine this truth I went to the scriptures and found that our spiritual lives are filled with choices. Deuteronomy 30:19 says:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live
Even God provides us with a choice, and in is abundant love, gives us the answer to the challenge, instructing us to “choose life”. Most of us when reading this scripture will think, “This is a no-brainer! If given the choice between life and death, of course I will choose life.” However, when we examine our lives closely, we find that many times while the choices we make do not mean imminent death, those choices certainly place us on a path toward destruction. The choices can be as simple as choosing the deep dish pizza over a healthy salad. Or the choice can be more complex or like choosing to remain in a toxic relationship that is unhealthy, rather than being alone and giving yourself time to heal.
These negative choices, compounded over time, will absolutely lead to death whether, emotional, spiritual or physical.
All is not lost, you can begin to change this pattern of behavior immediately. To move forward you must:
1st be willing to admit that your way of living and being has created your present circumstances
2nd choose to rely on the Word of God found in the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct you in your choices
3rd make those choices out a sincere desire to please God with how you live and operate in the world
By deciding to surrender your choices to the leading of a loving, and all knowing God you will begin living your life in a way that glorifies Him allowing people to “see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). If you allow the Word of God to be your catalyst for choice, you are no longer a victim of life’s circumstances thus giving you the ability to “choose life” every time.
James 1:22-25 tells us:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Once we decide to allow our desire to live a Godly life to be the catalyst for our choices and not be “forgetful hearers” with unfulfilled, frustrating lives, we will be the “doers” mentioned in the above verses that “will be blessed in that he does”.
Renatha E. Lollis is the Director of Operations for Destiny Institute, a non-profit Christian advocacy organization primarily focused on promoting the importance of a Biblical worldview within the Christian Church. She is a wife, Bible Teacher, and conference speaker. To contact Renatha directly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.