We make 100s of choices every day. An exercise in building awareness is to try and notice every decision you make in a day, or part of a day. In my practice of this exercise, I’ve noticed 3 categories of the choices I make in a day. Most of the choices in my day don’t have any lasting consequences. Oatmeal or eggs and toast for breakfast. Post-consumption I don’t experience much effect of that decision.
Some choices don’t seem to have any consequences. Who knows how my day would go differently if I had made a different choice. For example, when I choose to walk rather than take the bus, I will see different things, encounter different people, and take more time to get where I want to go. Then, some choices have important consequences, like how I choose to behave or speak to my husband or a friend.
Do you have a choice?
How many times have you thought to yourself (or spoken aloud when you’re alone), “I have no choice in this situation. I’m forced to do the wrong thing.”? The hard truth in response to that pity party is, “I always have a choice. I might need some help to see it, but there is always a choice.” God has designed us to be free.
Adam and Eve had a choice in the garden when confronted with the tree of life. Even though Adam thought differently in the moment, he had a choice to join Eve in eating the fruit or obeying God’s (one and only) rule. Since Adam and Eve in the garden, human beings have had choices. Choices are expressions of freedom. Most of the time our choices are limited by our state of freedom, as we experienced throughout the varying levels of restrictions during the pandemic. But, even when we were confined to our apartment for 12 weeks of “COVID-19 lockdown” in 2020, we had choices. Having choices is freedom.
How do you feel once you’ve made a decision?
If it’s something I’ve been wrestling with, I feel light on my feet and ready to face the world. One of the cues that I’ve made the right decision, that I’ve discerned correctly, is a feeling of peace and power. When I’ve made a big decision, I want to keep moving and get to work on the next action steps. I don’t typically want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. On a small scale of importance, I’ve noticed that it’s much harder for me to decide where to go for dinner, than it is for me to decide what to order (or make) when I get there. Making the harder decision gives me power to make the next choice, and the next. Making choices is empowerment.
Our choices make us who we are
The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7b). Taking responsibility for our choices is a big step in maturity. As I said at the beginning of this reflection, consequences are one way we become aware of the power of our choices. Taking responsibility for our choices is how we grow. We begin to harness the power within our freedom. Like it or not, here is our reality:
- We choose what we do. I can choose to rest when I’m tired, or I can choose to keep working until I get a headache. I can choose to exercise or to binge watch Netflix…
- We choose our attitude. “Son or slave” is an attitude choice I often face. When the house needs to be cleaned, will I clean it with the attitude of the one who owns (or will inherit) the house and wants it to be a nice place to live? Or will I clean it with the attitude of the one who has to clean the house so that I can live there? Please notice that the house will be cleaned by me regardless of my attitude. Another attitude choice is to choose to live with joy… not everyone chooses this.
- We choose what we say. Speaking without thinking is impossible. We cannot use our mouth without engaging our brain. I would suggest that sometimes I could spend a bit more time choosing my words.
- We choose what we believe. Will I accept whatever story I hear? Or will I seek to discern the truth in a complex situation? Will I choose to believe that Jesus is who he says he is?
- We choose how we respond or react. When someone hurts us, we are faced with a moment of choice. Will I hurt this person back? Or will I choose to love this person as I love myself and stop the cycle of hurt and abuse? When someone gives me a gift, will I say thank you and receive the blessing I am being offered? Or will I refuse the gift and work to “earn” what I need?
- Who do your choices show you to be?
- What has been a significant choice that you’ve made?
- How has that choice worked in your formation?
Tammy Lundell, Europe
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