This is where so many people get it twisted. This is where we differentiate whether we are an overcomer or a victim, a warrior or a worrier, a message or a mess. This is where the proverbial fork in the road is before us and we have no choice but to go right or left.
You choose whether to stay in the relationship or walk away. You choose whether to buy things you can’t afford or be financially responsible. You choose whether to say “yes” or say “no”. You choose whether to celebrate the good or whine about the bad. It’s all up to you to choose how to respond to life.
Your choice determines your story. It determines how you’ll view yourself and your world. It determines how you’ll replay the situation for years to come. When we realize we have a choice, we accept that we also have a responsibility. Sometimes that reality is too hard for us, so we choose to play the victim or allow others to celebrate our pain with us. After all, it feels great for a little while when you’re the victim and people come around to support you and remind you how unfair life is. However, when we accept responsibility for the chapters we remained in too long, for the ones we stopped short, for the ones we went back to and wrote more of after ending them a first time, suddenly we become empowered to make additional life changes. It takes time for many people because it is a hard process to admit we made a choice that led to consequences, but when we see that we made a choice and that we are the author of our story–not anyone else–suddenly the world changes and we can gain new life after we heal from traumatic events and choices.
I’ve been there! I am not talking to you as someone who has had a great life filled with rainbows, unicorns, and tacos. Though there has been plenty of each, it’s because I finally came to a place where I had to accept the responsibility I had in my choices. I know how hard it is to admit, “I chose to stay.” I know how hard it is to admit I chose comfort over safety, security over love, sadness over the possibility I’d never find joy. But once I accepted those things, the next ten years became a healing journey that ultimately changed the way I showed up in life. The years allowed me to look at the lies I’d started believing about myself and my world, remove myself from those lies, and start walking in the truths that belonged in my world and that actually fit me. I did this for all areas of my life: things said to me, things I believed due to the faith I chose, things that happened to me, things I had been taught, and things I innately believed.
For my Christian friends who gasped at the idea we write our own story: Free Will. I got so excited when Pastor Steven preached “There’s a Hole in Your Story” this weekend. It was such a great mix of confirmation and correction. Professionally, it affirmed what I teach others through coaching work and personally it reminded me of a few areas where I’d still been telling myself incomplete versions of the story. Y’all, life happens. I get it. I’ve been there and had plenty of life happen. But it’s up to us how we respond and what story we tell ourselves and how we proceed.
The reason so many of us are trapped is because we think of God as this mean toddler playing with humanity as if we were little action figures. That’s just not how the Bible says He is. He gives instruction and WE CHOOSE whether to obey. He supplies the ink but we must pick up the pen, open the book, and choose to write the story…and while he suggests the words to construct a beautiful love story, we are the writer, editor, proofreader, and publisher of our own story. He has a plan; it is up to US to choose whether we will walk in. And nothing about the Bible says that His perfect plan for us includes terrible traumas. They happen because of life and what people choose. But we don’t have to accept that because someone chooses to do something terrible that our life must forever change in ways that bring desecration and hardship. No! We choose how we will use those moments.
We choose the words, the narrative, and our actions. While we can’t choose how others will act, speak, or think, we choose how we respond. And this is a VERY hard reality for many of us who have experienced traumatic events. It takes years of counseling to get to the moment where we realize there was a time we had a choice and our choices set the tone for stories that aren’t always worth retelling, that are painful, that have changed the trajectory of our life. When we accept this and do the healing work and allow ourselves to release the burden from everyone else, giving each character the proper role, we find a level of freedom that can’t be described in words.
You choose. From this moment forward, you choose how you tell the story to yourself and others. You choose whether you pick up the pen or allow the ink to dry out. From this moment forward, you choose whether you react or respond, show up or stay present, take the left or the right.
What will you choose today?