Each of us makes decisions everyday. Often we give very little thought to the consequences that we could face because of those decisions.
It would not be completely accurate to say that you are the sum total of your decisions, but it wouldn’t be too far off base either. Sure, the decisions of other people can have a sizeable impact on your life, but too often we can use the bad that others bring into our lives as an excuse. Rather than rise above it and achieve all that we can, we assume the role of victim.
Without disregarding the bad decisions of others that impact your life, let’s consider the decisions that you can and do make on a daily basis. These are very often so simple and mundane that we don’t give them much thought.
Penny came from a broken home. Her dad left home when Penny was 8. Penny’s mom had a couple of semi-serious relationships but never remarried. Her mom worked hard to keep the family fed, but had a hard time making ends meet. She worked two jobs; this meant that Penny and her younger brother we at home alone a lot. Penny went to school during the day, looked after her brother in the afternoon, and worked part-time at a grocery store many evenings and weekends.
The decision of Penny’s dad to abandon the family had a huge impact on the whole family. It not only created financial hardships; it also left deep emotional scars on Penny, her brother, and her mom. Penny was a victim. She could have thrown in the towel very early and accepted that she would always be the victim of her dad’s actions. She didn’t.
Penny studied hard and made good grades. She not only helped her brother with his schoolwork in the afternoons, but also began to help some of the other neighborhood kids. Penny discovered she liked to help people learn. She decided she wanted to be a teacher.
With that goal in her mind, she began to make decisions in high school that would one day put her in the classroom as a teacher. She chose not to drink alcohol because she knew that it was illegal and that it often led people to do really stupid things – things that could mess of the future. She chose not to do drugs. Again, she knew drugs were illegal and she had seen 3 of her classmates suspended for drug use. She also decided that she would not have sex until she was married. This was the hardest decision that she had to make because it seemed that almost all of her friends were sleeping with boys – sometimes with many boys. But she also saw some of the girls in the school who struggled with being a student and a teen mom. She didn’t want to end up pregnant or with some disease, and the only way to make sure of that was to abstain from sex until she was married.
Penny didn’t go out as much as her friends did. She didn’t always have the latest fashions or newest technology. But Penny had something that many of her friends did not have – a goal of what life could be – and the self-discipline to make wise decisions that would lead her to that goal.
Just like Penny, you have been victimized by someone in your life – maybe many someones. You still have choices. You can still choose wisely. You may not reach the life of your dreams, but you don’t have to settle for the life of your nightmares, either.
Today you have choices. Choose wisely. Choose with an eye on the future. What you choose today matters today and tomorrow. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)