“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: We are what we chose to be.” Graham Brown
Do you know someone who cheats on their spouse? Do you know someone who is less than honest in business or personal affairs? Do you know someone who lied on a resume to get ahead? Are you this person? Be honest; no need to be defensive!
You have a choice. We all do. In fact, you have many choices. A life full of choices. As a person of faith, it all starts with a choice. A choice to believe or not. For many of us, that is a choice made for us until we were old enough to make it for ourselves. Then each of us makes it. Sometimes it is an unconscious choice to keep doing what we always do. But it’s a choice. How many times have you said to yourself, “I can’t help it, that’s just who I am!” But is it true? You always have a choice, to listen to your conscience—or not. To make a commitment—or not. How to express your feelings—or not. What company you keep!
Is it possible to change? Absolutely!
You have to start by taking stock. Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Are you the person you really want to be? Realize this, no one is perfect, but can you be better.
In the world we are living in today, making choices and moving on with our lives seems increasingly difficult. We find ourselves paralyzed: unable to make choices about relationships, dating, marriage, money, family, career, and so forth. Would you prefer to make an ironclad, no-turning-back choice, or one you could back out of if need be? Do you ever find that you’re afraid to commit? Do you reply to invitations with a “maybe” rather than a “yes” or “no”? Do you like to keep your smartphone switched on at all times, even in meetings, so that you are never fully present at any given moment?
We as a culture, demand choice. We demand options. We imagine that more options mean more freedom. And most people think that limitless freedom must be a good option. The irony, however, is that these apparently limitless choices don’t actually make us happy. The number of choices available to us become overwhelming, and actually makes it difficult for us to ever have the joy of fully committing to anything or anyone. Even if we do commit, our culture makes us feel dissatisfied with the choice we’ve made.
During a recent vacation, we were seated in a restaurant and some of the people we were with ordered meals that were different from mine. As I sat there thinking of what I had ordered, I actually started to think, maybe I want fries and chicken wings, samosas, or a burger. Maybe, I thought to myself, my choice of meal up to this point has been catastrophically naive. Suddenly, these choices made me unhappier about my own. I began to covet. I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore. I became indecisive. I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit — either to my kind of meal or to theirs. Was this really freedom of choice, or slavery to it?
What if we take the same multiplicity of trivial options we have at a restaurant and apply them to bigger questions: where we should work, where we should study, where we should live, whom we should marry, or whom we should worship? It seems that the more options we have, the more afraid we are of choosing. We become enslaved to being noncommittal. We don’t want to make a mistake or cut down our options. In fact, we may become so fearful of making a choice, we simply refuse to choose.
It’s right to be careful and to seek wisdom in our decision-making of course: to pray, to seek counsel from Scripture, and from those ahead of us. The bigger the decision, the more careful we should be. But there comes a point when pausing becomes procrastination, when waiting is no longer wise. There comes a point when not to choose becomes idolatry. It becomes a lack of trust in the God who ordains the decisions we will make, gathers up the frayed ends, and works all things for our good and his glory.
My friend, where in your life are you refusing to choose? Maybe you’re refusing to commit to a particular relationship — perhaps even your marriage? Maybe you’re not truly committed at work — you consistently speak negatively about your bosses, are constantly complaining when you have to engage in things that will stretch you, have Facebook open in one of your browser tabs, half hoping to be interrupted. Maybe your restless eyes are on constant alert for something or someone better. Maybe you’re keeping your options open with God himself, not allowing yourself to become too committed.
“Make a choice, my friend”. Enough of this noncommittal, risk-averse, weak-willed, God-forgetting immaturity. Or, as it probably says in some of the more modern translations, “Grow up”.
My friend, the god of open options is also a liar. He promises you that by keeping your options open, you can have everything and everyone. But in the end, you get nothing and no one. Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters”. At any given moment, you must choose whom you will follow. And if you choose the god of open options, you will end up overwhelmed, confused, lacking joy, and constantly searching.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday“. May each day’s choices grow you in character, joy, contentment, and learning. May they bring you closer to achieving your life’s purpose and meaning. Life is so very good. Choose wisely; choose well. Because my friend, out of your infinite possibilities, the choices you make, make you.