I am so thrilled to be joining the wonderful online ministry of Take Root and Write! I humbly and sincerely thank Noelle Mena for inviting me to be a part of her vision to compose words of encouragement, insight, and thought for women, to help build them up and always point them to Jesus. We are all on a journey, but that doesn't mean we need to journey alone!
This column will be posted once a month, on every 4 th Monday. The topic of this column was very easy for me to select, because I passionately believe in the power of choice, and specifically the importance of understanding that our choices either lead to life or to death. And honestly, I think God does too. Each month I will focus the article on a different topic within the context of “Choose Life.” For instance, we can choose life in our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, finances, relationships or associations, habits, politics, health or eating practices, and the list could go on.
In life, we all face many different tests and trials. Some we may see coming, like finals or mid-terms, others may be more like the dreaded pop-quiz, but all are open-Book. Because of His great mercy and grace, God has given us the ultimate resource book for all of these tests – the Bible. Everything we do, say, think, feel, believe, etc. either leads to life or to death. It says in Deut. 30:19, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”Life happens all around us, and we can’t control the circumstances that confront us, for good or for bad. But we can control the way we react to those circumstances. We can control our attitude, and consequently our altitude. We get to choose whether we rise above our circumstances and soar like the eagle, or stay down in the dumps, wallowing in our circumstances like a pig that wallows in the slop of its environment.
So now I invite you to join me on this new journey to see how we can choose life and blessings over death and curses in our daily lives. This is not some New Age or humanistic philosophy, but rather it’s what the Lord teaches us through His Word. God not only created us, but He has given us free-will, which is the power of choice. He desires for us to live with the fullness of life and blessings that He has to offer, but ultimately it is our choice. Choose life.
This command consists of two small and simple words, but the consequences of either obeying or disobeying are huge. I know – I’ve lived it. So why am I so passionate about “choosing life? That’s easy. I believe wholeheartedly that life presents us with innumerable choices every day, week, month and year. And these choices have consequences – either for good or for bad. To help you understand why choosing life is so important to me, I have to share a bit of my background. I grew up in dysfunction and poverty. I never knew my father and my mother was emotionally absent. I grew up witnessing physical abuse and experiencing neglect, as well as, emotional and sexual abuse. In many ways, I was always the “adult” of the family – even as a child. My immediate, and extended, family is plagued by depression, pessimism, substance abuse, poverty and a defeatist, victim mentality. There is no sense of hope, optimism, motivation, joy, peace or life. To say they are oppressed would be an understatement. It’s like they live death. From the time that I was very young, I was dissatisfied with life as I knew it, and believed there had to be a better way. I started to look beyond my own family to see how others lived, worked and played. I started to see opportunities to make change. I saw that there were choices out there, and if I wanted something different than what I had, I had to make different choices. I didn’t know then that this was Biblical, and to be honest, I probably couldn’t have explained the concept of choices, even though that’s what I was striving for. The most important choice I’ve ever made was to accept Jesus as my own personal Savior and live according to the Word of God. This however, didn’t happen until I was 30. Looking back, I see how many opportunities were presented to me, once I wanted to see them. I used to believe it was because of God’s grace and love for me, and I still believe that to a point. But I know that God is no respecter of persons and everyone receives as many opportunities to make change in their own lives as I do. I’ve only risen above the circumstances my family continues to live in, because I started choosing the things that would produce or lead to life, rather than the things that produce or lead to death. The opportunities are there for all of us, however we have to not just say we want better, but decide we really want it enough to put action behind it, and that starts with choice. Because of my own personal history, I am passionate about the power, and responsibility, of choice. And it’s easy for me to get frustrated with others who consistently make poor choices, but then complain about where they are in life. In fact, I have to admit that I really have no patience or mercy for those who don’t accept personal responsibility for the choices they make. We cannot choose what happens to us in life, but we can choose how we handle these things and we can choose to learn from them. This is not to say that I always make the right choice (because I don’t) or that I’m totally where I want to be (because I’m not), but I do make an effort to choose life and fortunately, I hit the target more than I miss. I’ve definitely made my fair share of mistakes and some of them have been real doozies, but I press on. The good news is God’s mercy is new every day. We can start fresh every day. It matters not where we start, but rather where we finish. God wants us to have a good life with blessings, rather than a dismal life with curses. And He has provided that for us, but we have to be active participants in this, by choosing life every day. And when we mess up and make the wrong choice, we need to then admit it and take responsibility for our choice, correct in any way we can and move on. Mistakes don’t defeat us unless we allow them too. We can fall down by staying down when we stumble, or we can fall up by rising each time we fall. We can allow adversity to keep us down and defeated or we can use it to propel us upward into victory. It’s our choice. Making the right choice is not always easy, but honestly the best things in life rarely are. In closing, I’d like to leave you today with this:
Attitude leads to thoughts. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits lead to character. Character leads to destiny.
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jer. 29:11