"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Making Loving Choices—Infinite Possibilities

By Micky Wolf

The action of choosing means to make a conscious and intentional choice. Getting out of the chair, going to work, taking a walk, visiting someone at the hospital, paying the bills—one after the other, life circumstances require our response. There are subtle dynamics at work in the way we make our choices, which directly affect the outcome. 

Deceptions that impede Christ-like Choices

1.       Believing I don’t really have any options…

Hogwash, as grandma used to say. We always have options regarding the way we choose to behave or act. Note: I am not saying we determine which events and circumstances will occur, only that our response is our responsibility.

If we truly believe we have no options in how we can live responsibly and proactively rather than reactively and negatively, we end up feeling more like a victim than a victor. We soon live with a mindset grounded on the idea that life hands me a variety of circumstances and about all I can manage is to ‘sit there and take it’. 

A sitting there and taking it mentality can be confused with Jesus’ example of how we are to be meek and humble. He was never more bold and proactive than when he chose to persevere through his Passion. Humility was saying yes and trusting his Father. He could have also responded no, maybe, or later. 

On the surface it may have seemed from Jesus’ perspective that his choices were very limited, and with significant suffering a likely outcome no matter which one he made. However, even in circumstances of what seem limited choices—including those that may involve pain—is not the same thing as believing we are powerless to choose well.

2.      Believing loving obedience to God means never having to say no…

“No”, pure and simple, can be the most Christ-like choice we can make on certain occasions. Not only is ‘no’ a viable option, in some cases, it can be the good fruit of true humility resulting from having the courage to acknowledge my limitations. We are finite human beings while we walk this Earth. God has imbued us with the presence of His Holy Spirit. He has also made it clear He is God and we are not. 

Physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally we are bounded by that which defines us as the created, not the Creator. Learning to say no—incorporating it as part of our vocabulary as well as a meaningful concept seated in our will and reason—further expands our options when it comes to making loving choices. 

3.      Believing that others usually know better than I…

Inviting the input of mature and wise counselors is a good thing when it comes to making choices. Yet, we can become so dependent upon what others have to say we overlook the ways in which God is trying to get our attention. 

While it is true we may occasionally suffer pain or unpleasantness of one kind or another because of the choice we make, if we rely too heavily on the ‘court of public opinion’ we may be at risk for choosing to please man rather than please God. 

Truths that encourage and nurture Christ-like Choices

1.       Attitude is foundational…

It is not likely anyone will ever go to Hell because they perceived life from mostly the glass half empty perspective. But, were that we could understand from the depths of our being that as creatures made in the image of God and transformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ, we have all we will ever need.  

For the truly believing Christian who desires to make the best choices in daily life, it is not so much the quantity contained in the glass that matters, rather it is our openness and receptivity of heart to receiving Divine wisdom and knowledge through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2.      Identify distractions…

The temptations of life can be significant in drawing us away from making loving choices. Additionally, when we choose to give into them and sin, we further distance ourselves from the source of strength and counsel to behave and act in a Christ-like manner.

A good place to begin is to make the choice to allow God to show us those areas of our thoughts and feelings where we are liable to be tempted. Once identified and surrendered to Him, we are better equipped to notice the ‘triggers’ that stir and unsettle us. With this awareness, we can call upon the authority and presence of the Spirit for encouragement and help ‘in times of trouble and need’. [Psalm 9:9-10]

3.      The Infinity of God…

Our human ability to see beyond the moment, the immediate circumstance, or into the depths of our own minds and hearts—let alone those of anyone else—is severely limited.  While we say we are willing to embrace the Truth He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, we tend to forget this Divine principle at times when called up to make a loving choice. 

Thankfully, God knows our limitations and is not only ready, willing and able to assist us, He does so with the most humble of invitations—everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. [Romans 10:13]

Am I believer who believes I do not have options?

How do I feel about choosing to say no in obedience to God?

Do I value the wisdom of others over the guidance of the Spirit within?

Am I open to allowing God to show me the distractions and temptations 
which draw me away from making more Christ-like choices?   

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