One of the things that has always amazed me is God’s commitment to free will. He wanted us to make choices, not just follow him because we were forced to. In the Christian life, we make choices all the time, but some choices seem bigger than others. These three have transformed my life completely.
The Choice of Gratitude
It’s only in the last couple years that I’ve really got a handle on gratitude. I used to believe that you should be grateful for the good things in your life when they happened. But what if there weren’t many good things? Or, more to the point, what if the bad things were so big they cast dark shadows on everything else?
I grew up dealing with an angry alcoholic and all the other things that happen when addiction touches a family. There were patterns everyone in my family fell into, including me. The one thing I needed to get a handle on was seeing the good in my life, because for many years I grew up believing that God loved everyone except me.
In God’s patience, I learned to choose gratitude in order to lift the blinders and remove the labels others had placed over me. I couldn’t see the positive things that God provided for me until I chose to look for them. Once I made that choice, gratitude became a practice I worked on until it became a regular part of my everyday life.
The Choice of Forgiveness
Forgiveness doesn’t just happen when we “feel better” or when we’re “over it.” It happens when we choose to forgive. In every case when I’ve forgiven something extremely difficult to get over, I have come to God beaten and broken and not feeling very forgiving. But I ask him for help, and when I take this first step as a choice, the negative feelings subside. I’m able to move on with the lessons, leaving the pain behind.
If I compare that to when I wait for forgiveness to just happen, it may takes years and years or in some cases, doesn’t come at all. By making a choice, I’m opening the floodgates of possibility, taking back the pieces of my life I’ve given away to those who would hurt me.
The Choice to Believe That God Is Good
Am I the only one that thought God really didn’t like me so much? Oh, I know he didn’t hate me. God’s not like that. But really love me? I couldn’t quite get my head around that one. His unconditional love was something I couldn’t quite understand.
My upbringing brought out negative patterns in my life. When you hear that you’re worthless over and over from the time you’re a child, you believe it. It overrides God’s voice.
But not forever. Not when you make the choice to believe that this love God has for you meets you right where you are and doesn’t expect perfection. You can’t hide a thing. You don’t have to pretend.
For the first several years of my life, I was angry at God. I prayed and prayed and those prayers weren’t pretty. I can share that with you now without shame, not because I’m proud of them but because I’m amazed at what God taught me through it all. He never left me, even when I made myself believe that he was out to punish me all the time.
He helped me embrace the uniqueness of my own path, and accept the ups and downs of life. I except that I won’t always understand the things that go on in my life, or in the world. This is a new concept for me, and has only arrived when I made the choice to believe in God as he is: good. The kind of good we can’t always define neatly or wrap our heads around.
Three Choices – Endless Actions and Thoughts
In making these three choices, I learned that there were blessings even in the bad things that had happened to me. These choices play into every other action and thought of my life.