The Brazilian writer and poet Cora Coralina, from a very poor family, became a famous teacher and author. She left many wise sayings in her books, one of which was: “The most important things in life are our choices!” She meant to teach her students that being rich or good-looking or other things society values are not as crucial as learning to make the right choices in life.
One of the traits of humankind, as beings created in the image of God, is free will, which includes both the ability to make decisions and the responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions. Learning to make decisions that will glorify God and fulfill His will for our lives can be very challenging. It can test and grow our faith, as we seek His will and wait on Him for answers and guidance.
In one of his psalms, King David wrote, speaking to God, “To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.”1 I’ve always found that to be a beautiful description of God’s ability to be everywhere and see everything.
You’ve probably heard some of these familiar sayings:
Recently, I was contemplating the topic of wrong choices, after having made a few myself, and was feeling a bit discouraged. Most of us enjoy finding we’ve made the right decisions, and we can definitely see the benefits in those. But it’s harder to see any good that could come from our wrong choices. We make plenty of those, however, from the small ones that we often sweep under the carpet, hoping no one else noticed, to some real whiz-bangers.
Decisions come in all shapes and sizes.
Every day we face decisions about what to eat, whether to exercise, how to use our time, etc. Over the years, these decisions become habits, and we don’t think much about them. If we’ve made good decisions from the start, we don’t usually have to worry about them. When we haven’t made good choices, however, these small decisions can blossom into bad habits that take a long-term toll on our lives and relationship with God and others.
The movie Shenandoah is set during the American Civil War. It’s a moving story of a Southern family caught up in the conflict of the day. The patriarch of the family, Charlie Anderson, continually shuts down the urges of his sons who want to join the war. Charlie wants to remain neutral and uninvolved until the war actually touches his family.
I’m a perfectionist. I like to do things well and thoroughly, no matter how much time it takes. In my decision-making, I’ve come to recognize that my main motivation is avoiding making mistakes. I try to make sure that my work and personal decisions are as right as they can possibly be.
That blind spot! I’m not talking about the back of the retina where the optic nerve enters the eyeball, that place lacking cones or rods that causes us to lose vision at certain angles. I am talking about those unguarded moments when I miss something right in front of me. The other day, our event company calculated that we’ve lost over $1,000 worth of equipment over the years due to leaving bags somewhere we shouldn’t have. Then just the other day, while I was coming home from the gym, I forgot to zip up the side pocket of my backpack where my phone was, and … you can guess what happened.
Most people have heard the acronym “YOLO” thrown around for the past couple of years. It stands for “you only live once.” Pop stars and celebrities have made it a catchphrase to promote doing crazy things or taking risks because, hey, “You only live once!”
It’s an attractive thought. Why worry about the future? Why subscribe to having to answer for decisions we make when we can pretend it all doesn’t matter anyway? Why can’t we only be concerned about what makes us happy right now?