Lately I have been pondering the many choices we all have in walking through this life of ours. When I’m hiking in the woods, I choose to take the right or left path. If I’m in familiar territory, I have an idea of where each will take me. And if I’m in a new place, sometimes it feels like a crapshoot. Who knows? There are people who stop at that fork in the path frozen in indecision over not knowing what to do. Being a rather decisive person (I am always more comfortable having decided- even if it is the wrong decision), I pick a path and plunge full steam ahead.
Likewise in life, there are many, many, many forks in our path. Some seem very clear and some not clear at all. Lately I keep hearing people talk as though they are a victim of their lives, of their own choices. No one reaches out. No one helps. No one understands. I have to do this. Or attend that. So and so needs this from me or wants this from me. Admittedly, I fall into this myself at times. When we see ourselves as simply a victim of circumstances, we cannot make positive changes or move forward. Believe me, I’ve been stuck there before and will undoubtedly get stuck there again. But I am amazed at the freedom of realizing that we are generally in our circumstances by choice. Not because we specifically thought “Well this one will bite me in the butt, I think I’ll go there” but rather by the small choices leading up to the sometimes daunting consequences or sometimes by refusing to make positive steps to avoid situations that we don’t need in our lives.
I have been reminded over and over again just how many choices we have to make, big and small. And that we usually have ourselves to blame when those choices bear fruit- whether good or bad. I chose to do this thing, which impacts me in this way. It really helps me look at my life in a more honest, reality-based light and gives me much to consider in future choices.
Example: I chose to start working on the upstairs hall in February, knowing it would be a rather intensive project. I painted the walls and ceilings, ripped out the old floor, got the new floor installed, and am still irritated by the fact that it isn’t done. However, at the beginning of the project I knew that I wouldn’t be around for a couple weekends in March, which would greatly impact my ability to get it finished in a timely manner. And I chose to proceed with it anyway because I wanted to get it underway and convinced myself I could deal with a partially done job without a problem. I can blame my involvement with Life Teen (which I chose), or my silent retreat (which I chose), or that I spend time with my grandparents (which I chose), or that I spent Thursday night cleaning the house for such and such a thing (which I chose). Mmm hmm. I chose this. And I have no grounds to be irritated. Embrace the reality, and the life-cycle of this particular choice, and move forward.
Maybe moving forward means being more careful in our future choices. Not committing to that additional activity. Or maybe it means intentionally scheduling more time at home. Or not buying a fixer upper. Or deciding to live with an orange hall and a broken floor for another year. The choice is mine. The choices that you make are yours, as are the fruits of those choices. Often for me the first step in embracing reality and doing better in the future, is first embracing my own part in choosing to be in the current situation. Once I recognize that, it frees me. I am not a victim. I made choices to get here. And once I have a healthy respect for that, I am able to take the next step to move forward.