Your life is the sum of your choices.
Your today is the result of yesterday’s choices.
Your tomorrow will be the results of today’s choices.
Those phrases can be uncomfortable to read. They can make us feel uneasy, offended, or distressed because we usually don’t want to take responsibility for the messy or painful areas of our life. It’s far more comfortable to shift the blame and point an accusing finger to another’s poor decision that has affected us than it is to admit our current status has everything to do with the choices we made.
But the truth is, we are where we are because we choose to be here.
We can hear what you’re thinking now; and yes, we are taking into account things – like illness, pandemics, and market crashes – happen beyond our control. We are considering that often people, even those we love and trust, can make decisions which negatively impact us and leave us in hard places. But in the end, we are responsible for what we do with what happens to us. We are responsible for where we go after we’ve been negatively impacted.
George W. Bush famously once said, “I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best.” This declaration presented the image of a world leader asserting his authority and accepting responsibility. He made it clear that he alone made decisions that determined the outcome.
Isn’t that what we expect of our leaders? We think of the recent hurricane to hit Louisiana. Category 4 Laura barreled through the state from top to bottom with winds up to 154mph. It left a wide path of destruction that devastated residences and businesses. Every occupant in that state looked to its governor, mayors, and community leaders to make tough decisions before, during and after the storm that would help them all survive and quickly recover.
No resident would accept a leader who refused to move forward because they were angry the storm targeted Louisiana. They would not tolerate a leader who blamed NOAA, meteorologist, or satellites for forecasting the storm or reporting on its destruction. They would never stand for a list of excuses or allow their leaders to spend their time lamenting the storm and living in the rubble. Louisiana residents wouldn’t permit their leadership to constantly talk about the storm but do nothing about it.
We have high expectations for leaders. We expect them to be decisive. We want them to take difficult situations and make bold, confident choices that improve our circumstances and result in positive outcomes for us.
Why do we not hold ourselves to these same expectations?
Too often storms blow through our life and in the aftermath, we choose to sit in the rubble. We choose to blame others and make excuses. We choose to withhold forgiveness and hold grudges. We choose to be angry, resentful, and bitter. We choose to talk about it and not take action.
All of this feels right and reasonable, and we feel justified in making those choices. But, the choices we make today will determine our spiritual, mental, and physical health tomorrow. In the days, months, and years to come, we will stand in the middle of a pain filled life and wonder how we got here. We’ll ask how this ever happened to us. And it will be hard to pinpoint that moment in time when it happened because it was a slow and steady turn made by the many choices we made along the way.
In Deuteronomy 30:19, God encourages us to choose life. In Proverbs 8:10, He urges us to choose His instructions. In Romans 6:16, He warns us that we become a slave to whatever we choose to obey. By choosing to gratify our own desires instead of following His instructions we are really choosing to become slaves to our emotions, which results in death.
Like George W. Bush, you are the decider. You get to choose what your life will be like, regardless of what happens. We encourage you, exercise your authority over yourself, and take full responsibility by boldly, confidently, and assertively choosing life.