the question


It is the third day of Daniel being back to school which means we are up at 6 am again (without going to bed any earlier) which leaves that all too familiar feeling of sleep deprivation. And with that backdrop I check my email this morning at 6:15 to find this question from my sister.

how do you think choices you have made in your life have impacted the direction you have taken and are there any that you would change, especially choices that seemed inconsequential at the time but turned out to be important and have continued over time to have an affect on your life?

Too deep for such an early hour, but then again I think better in the morning than at night. And it is a great question.

Off the top at the most basic level there are no decisions that I would have changed. I can track how choices effected the direction of our lives as a family (and personally) but I think the bigger question is the attitude in which one faces the effects of the choices. And there are probably no inconsequential choices in that deciding what to have for breakfast might change your life. It's the butterfly effect. And then there is the question of faith. Does god direct every moment, or does he equip us to deal with them? Personality comes into play as well. Some people are more resilient than others.

Maybe I have been blessed by choices that at the time seemed less like a decision than an obvious course of action. Like marrying my husband. That was such a gut level thing that it seemed more like being pulled by a current than jumping into a pool. Made for a pretty stress free wedding day too, being that sure of something. And to this day it is the single, best decision I ever made.

And then there is Daniel. The choice of having one child never really seemed like a choice. Of course he arrived on the scene earlier than planned (not that we had a plan) but the real choice came later regarding having more. Our life has a different tone than our friends that have more children. And I like it, but others might not. Our dynamic as a family continues to give me joy.

Then there are career choices and location choices and those are major too. Some decisions I have made have been less than informed and the consequences have been huge learning experiences. I think I like these. Even though there is some discomfort in learning(especially when you are making a fool of yourself) I have liked what I am left with in myself and the change in my character in the long run with both the successes and the failures. Like me starting a business, and another until finally I got it right.

And there are moral choices. If I were to have any regrets they would involve decisions that I have made that may have been made selfishly and hurt someone else in the process. Like quitting a job that I had in college without giving notice to my boss who was a sweet, bookish, nerdy sort of man that took a liking to me. He was hurt. Not that a choice like that changed the direction of my life, but it was a flippant decision without regard for someone else. And it is telling that I remember it.

Then there are the seemingly "inconsequential" choices that can effect your life that may have more to do with someone elses action toward you which you have no control over. For me this came in the form of making the decision to go to the laundromat on tuesday instead of wednesday. Unknowingly, tuesday was the day that a recently paroled sexual predator happened to see me with my laundry, followed me home and broke his parole. It was my second year in college. So what was less of a decision than a whim could have been a catalyst for a particular direction in my life. I guess the real choice came after, what to do with that event and how did it shape me.

Which takes me back to the statement of, "Does god direct every moment, or does he equip us to deal with them?" For me, that moment directed me to believe the latter. And maybe that is the essence of a defining moment.

I guess we can look at choice in one of two ways. What do I get when I make this decision for me as an individual, or what do I give to others with this decision. I wonder if, "How then shall we live", is more about how our actions effect someone else than it effects us. Which is kind of counter to the current self-help brand of cultural christianity.

And maybe this removes the potential of the "what if" fear factor. Choices that are made are then just a series of steps that make up the entire journey. The amazing part is that no one journey is the same. It also removes the notion of "god's best" which promises certain prosperity if you just do everything right which perpetuates a fear of "what if I slip up, even by mistake"? That can be crippling. And where is grace?

On a smaller scale I can be the queen of doubt and disappointment if a choice seems to have caused a less than perfect effect. These tend to be over more personal comfort issues like leaving the house early to get to the movie on time to get a good seat so the tall guy doesn't sit in front of me so I can't see...petty stuff like that. And again only a perception of control when any number of things can (and do) happen on the way to the movie.

I think it might be kind of fun to draw your life like some sort of flow chart and speculate choices that could have been made differently to help facilitate the question. Kind of a scientific approach to, "It's a Wonderful Life".

Does anyone want to weigh in on the question?


Hey thanks for putting this out there. It will be interesting to see if anyone responds.
Your comment about the flow chart is sort of what I have been doing, going backwards and trying to determine if any different choices would have changed where I have ended up. I look at the fact that there are really only a couple of choices that we don't make ourselves. When/Where we are born and When/Where we die (if we let nature take it's course). But even as infants we start to make choices that push, prod and shape who we are. I agree with you, I think that God equips us ( some better than others) to deal with daily events. But really what I want to focus on is the choices we make for our lives that actually reach out and like a ripple effect touch other people more than we think. Like you quitting the job affected your boss but it also touched how many other people that day and days after. Well I will stop now and check in later to see what other responses you get.

Oh yea, like the vw bug commercial where someone smiles at the bug and it gets passed on and so forth and the world ultimately becomes a better place.

I have to tell you that my husband is a master at this. He will turn a simple thing like a phone call with tech-support where the person on the line is a grouch around to the point where the person is laughing. Or in a line at the grocery store or whatever. He has a way of putting people at ease wherever he goes. The thing is, he makes the choice to do it, all the time. I guess it is one of the reasons I love him so much.

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This page contains a single entry by Blair published on August 31, 2005 9:16 AM.

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