Friday, February 4, 2011

We Don't Get To Choose

I didn’t get to choose which parent I would live with when my parents divorced when I was still a toddler.  Although, had I been given that choice, it would have been a no-brainer.  I would have picked the one that adored me.  The one that would have laid down their life for me.  The only one that would be there for me no matter what…unconditionally…no matter how bratty I was or un-lovable I made myself at times.

I didn’t get to choose when it came to giving my dog away when I was 6.  I was just told that he wouldn’t be there anymore when we got to my dad’s house. 
I cried hot tears. 
Not wanting him to see them, I looked out the window of our light blue Toyota Corolla. 

If I really understood what it was like to hate someone at that young age, that would have been the day. 

How is it possible to be within reach of someone but so incredibly far apart?  To be a world away although close enough to smell his cologne?

I didn’t get to choose the now ten-year-old fate when I became a widow.  That heart-crushing, gut-wrenching decision was planned long before I even took my first breath. 
I definitely chose the husband & I made that choice well.  But the days that I spent with him on this earth were much shorter than I would have liked.  The time spent in & out of hospitals.  Tending to him following chemotherapy & radiation.  Watching him lose his hair & his physical strength but never his dignity or faith.  Circumstances beyond our control couldn’t be changed. 

Life is full of choices not made by us. 
Some of us are born into circumstances.  Not allowing us to live within the boundaries of our full potential.  Some are crippled with illness & pain.  By depression & addiction.  A phone call that brings us to our knees telling us that someone we love, dearly, will not be coming home tonight.  We are told that our position is no longer needed or being outsourced.  Doctors tell us there isn’t anything more they can do. 

Choices are made for us.

We will drive to the polls & check the box beside the name of the candidate we like. 
We look at a long menu of choices.  Deciding whether to eat light & order a salad or give in and just order that juicy cheeseburger that is calling our name. 
We choose the neighborhood we live in. 
The college we go to.
The car we drive. 
The schools our children will attend. 
We choose our friends. 
We live in a world of choices.

We make more choices at Starbucks on our way to work than some will make all day.
Give.  Take.
Mayo or mustard
Straight or curly
Whole Wheat or White
Fast lane or scenic route

We choose.

We give up & blame others.
Or, seek grace & thank God.
We live out loud or die within ourselves.
We become a product of redemption or of self-pity.

We choose.
I choose.

Some choices may be made for us.  We choose how to handle them.  Will you become a better person because of them?  Will you learn through your experiences?  Are you seeking grace even when you’re finding it hard to find solid ground to stand on? 

Instead of wallowing in oppression, choose hallowing in gratefulness.  Express gratitude for the things in life that are allowing your heart to move, to change, to resurrect itself.

I could have made my experiences different.  Maybe not the 6-year-old me.  But the 40-year-old me can.  The here-and-now me that looks back & speaks of them can make them what I want.  I could choose to hate the dad.  To curse the cancer.  To hold my fists tight, shaking them in anger at God who holds every tear.

But I THANK!  
I may not understand.
I may question.
But I am still thankful.
Thankful because my choice, my decision, is to not let my past pain be my definitive future.
Blessed to have had that portion of the story but to not allow it to be the only.
Thousands are not loved by parents.  Widowed too young.  Laid off in a tough economy.  Born into an abusive environment.  And…..we…..choose.

We choose how to live outside of the boundaries of our labels.  To not let them define who we are.  How we are.  Why we are. 

Choose Wisely!

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