I find myself reflecting on some of the big choices I’ve made in life and wondering where I would be and what I would be like had I made a different choice at certain junctures. Had I stayed in Tennessee eleven years ago, would I have settled in a more family-oriented lifestyle that was aligned with values in the south? Maybe if I had kept the first corporate job I got in California I would be a fancy sales executive with a Range Rover and a beachside condo. Or perhaps if I’d had a little less coffee early in the week I wouldn’t have ended up with a 3-day stress headache.
We constantly make choices, big and small, then navigate through whatever the consequences may be.
Rationale for the way our lives end up takes on many forms. Some call it fate. Serendipity is a fun word to use. Providence feels a little more old school. Prayer is markedly spiritual and I believe that God speaks to us, although not always audibly, giving us guidance when we ask and when we need it. God is able and willing to provide direction, always giving us the option to listen and choose our path.
The beautiful times our lives are straight and smooth are seasons to be treasured.
I have loved the sweet spots of my life when I knew I was where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I should be. My first trip to Southeast Asia was in 2008 and I fell in love with Myanmar, both the culture and the people reached in and tugged my heartstrings. I couldn’t tell you why, but it was like the stars aligned and there was no other place in the world that was more perfect for me.
Even the hard seasons of life that pushed me into a deeper relationship with God made me realize I wouldn’t trade those times for anything. I had made a choice and I was honestly where I was supposed to be.
Most of the time I’m on the move and determining to go to the left or right, slow down or speed up. Sometimes I visualize a game of double dutch(does anyone even do that anymore?)and it’s up to me to choose when and if I should jump in to the flying ropes to give it a go. That’s what I like - there is challenge, there is mystery, and there is a chance of failure. Every choice has that chance of failure. You can’t always know if failure is likely until you are in the middle of the situation, the ropes are swinging wildly overhead and you realize you’re in too deep or you’ve got it under control and are going to jump right out of that craziness and land on your feet.
Every once in a while you might be able to see a fork in the road long before you get there. My military friends know they are going to have to move in a few years. They may have choices in how that turns out for them. Growing up, my parents tried to be as adventurous as possible with our military moves and relocate to as many new places as we could.
Deciding to have children can be a visible fork in the road - it was for me. As I approached 30 and evaluated what was going on in my life I made a very conscious decision not to have kids. These are good times to see a fork in the road.
Other times, you know there is something big on the path in front of you and you really have no idea what you will choose and get a little stuck. Life has a way of choosing for you if you’re not careful.
I feel like I would prefer to make a choice on my own, even if it’s the wrong one, rather than let fate or serendipity or providence take over.
Right or wrong are not the primary options for most decisions. It’s choosing between two good options. Even worse is choosing between two great options. Stay to the left and have a list of pros and cons. Move to the right and encounter a different, yet equal, set of pros and cons.
Including other people in your choices can be helpful for perspective and clarity, just don’t let them have the final word. When you get down to the wire, you are the only one who can make the right decision. No one knows your heart and thoughts like you do. No one else can feel the peace or unrest you get from contemplating one option or another. Be the boss of you.
Whatever has gotten you to this point in your journey is enough to get you to the next fork in the road. You are strong enough to face whatever comes up. All the past decisions have been building muscle in your resolve, determination and perseverance. You’re going to make it and you’re going to kick ass.
Stop waiting. Make a choice. Move forward.
Rhythms of Renewal