I've been thinking lately about CHOICE. (Forgive me while I rant a bit...)
Do more options weaken our ability to choose? Have we become conditioned to believe that we should be able to choose our life like we choose our cafeteria style lunch? If we are pro-choice does that mean that we never learn to handle or enjoy difficult situations?
I read this blog about being a distracted parent and was struck with the idea that modern technology enables irresponsibility. We don't have to plan ahead, because we know that everything will be accessible at a moment's notice. We don't need to study maps before we travel, we don't need to keep a current address book, we don't even need to establish pick-up times and places with our children because we can just text them later. I've wondered why I compile recipes when I can just google "sweet and sour chicken" and come up with 2,180 five star recipes in second. So many options have eliminated the urgency of choice.
Do options make it more difficult to choose? Reading Little House on the Prairie I would always smile as they talked about reading and re-reading the 3 books that they owned. Those books were cherished and memorized. I think of this as my own children whine that they have nothing to do or complain that they can't read because there are no good books. They say this in the midst of our home with hundreds of books and a library down the street. Have our children learned to value things less because they have more?
I have thought long and hard about the Pro-Choice campaign. I believe in choices. In fact, I believe that the ability to choose is one of the most fundamental characteristics of mankind. One of my favorite friends told me she wanted the following bumper sticker: PRO-CHOICE PRE-CONCEPTION. Do you love that as much as I do?
Sometimes I want to SHOUT to everyone having sex-- CHOOSE!!! We live in a day and age where birth control comes in every size, shape and flavor. We shouldn't have 40 million mistakes-- that is too many. I want to ask the 40 million woman that aborted their babies last year-- why didn't you CHOOSE before you conceived?They did choose- and changed their minds at the expense of a life. Why is it that people aren't being more responsible before they conceive? Are we loosing the old fashioned values that should accompany choice-- like responsibility. I will tell my children-- if you are old enough to have sex, or if you think you are old enough to have sex, than you are old enough to be RESPONSIBLE with that power. Sex creates babies. Be wise with that great responsibility. Choose wisely and then embrace the consequences of your choices.
Responsibility and choice don't just apply to abortion... it applies to so many things. How many women have you heard complaining about their husbands (or their ex-husbands)? Don't you want to scream at them-- YOU CHOSE THIS! There are a billion, trillion people in the world and this was the person YOU picked. So, deal with it. Everyone has flaws-- for some reason you picked this person and his particular flaws-- make the best of it.
Those of us who won't listen to anyone warning us beforehand, tend to be the loudest complainers when things turn out hard. Choose wisely friends and then man-up and be accountable for the choices you made. Big girl choices lead to big girl consequences. Sometimes, most of the time, bad situations turn out to be great, strengthening, life changing blessings with a few years of perspective.
When we choose to marry, or have a child, or choose to have eight children, there are going to be consequences of our choices that are hard. Our bodies will change. Our spouse will not be a ideal vampire, he will be a very real, very flawed person. Our lives will change. We won't all raise the next singing and dancing and smiling, Shirley Temple child. After nursing our boobs will sag, we will be tired, our home will be messier, we will have more laundry and less free-time, we will have to spend our money on responsible things and less selfish indulges. Babies change your life. Choices change your life. Accept it and embrace it.
Perhaps, you will someday be given something that you don't feel like you chose. Suck it up and deal with it. Crappy things happen. People get cancer, people die, there are disabilities and health issues and life plans that don't always happen. People are abused and raped and swindled. You might not have been raised in the home that every child deserves to be raised in. There are children born with AIDS, children raised on trash heaps, children physically abused and neglected-- maybe you were. In every situation you STILL have a choice. CHOOSE. Make the best of a bad situation. What good does it do to spend all your time as a whining, angry, victim? Seek help and keep trying to be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.
If it seems like everyone else is riding the easy-going mares and you somehow got put onto a bucking bronco life, paste a smile on your face and pretend that you love your bucking bronco. Either ride with the bucks, or end up miserable in the mud. (Probably there is somebody else that is looking at your life thinking it is ideal and crying about their own trail ride.) Life is hard and it is supposed to be. Progress comes from stress. Embrace the choices you DO have and stop believing that we should be able to choose an easy life.
The funny thing is, at the same time we are complaining about the things we did not choose that are bad in our life, we are taking credit for (or completely ignoring) the good things we have. Do we take credit for our child's straight A's and blame them when they struggle? Do we realize how lucky we are to have a good job, good health, nice husband, or just cry because we have a child who is sassy? It is human nature to assume that we deserve the good, or have earned the good, and at the same time cry and curse anything hard or difficult. I love the reminder that came to a young girl as she cried about becoming paralyzed from the neck down- she heard a heavenly voice whisper, "Don't covet, I have given you more." Do we overlook all the "more" in our life and simply covet the few things that we may not have at this moment? How many times do we miss the rainbow because we are complaining about the rain?
Sitting in the waiting room of some doctor's office, I read the sad story of a mother unable to conceive. She was whining about how difficult adoption was. She almost adopted a baby once and the baby's mother changed her mind at the last minute (yes, that would be difficult- akin to miscarriage I think). The second time she almost adopted, they showed up to the hospital only to find out that the baby had down syndrome. The woman detailed her tears as she left the baby there in the hospital bed. I wanted to whisper in ear that perhaps she wouldn't be feeling so sad if she had chosen to love the imperfect, perfect baby that she left in the hospital room. We don't always get to choose perfection, sometimes God chooses a life for us that is more perfect than we can imagine. Perhaps, that child she left was a gift that she never opened.
Society today is teaching us that we can CHOOSE to have a baby when it is most convenient, that we have the right to abort poorly timed, imperfect babies. We can medically alter our bodies to look less like our mother and more like Barbie's mother. Commercials tell us we can take a pill and in 5 minutes we should be completely happy, if that pill doesn't work there is another one to try. With diet and exercise everyone should be able to look like a tall, slender model. We believe our homes should be large, our cars should be new, our bank accounts should be plentiful and our vacations long. The American dream used to be that anyone could WORK their way up in the world. Today, we feel like we should just have everything without effort. We want better than what our parents had, forgetting where our parents began.
Life is not meant to be a cruise. (I think of the movie Wall-E, where all the fat, lazy humans just existed on their ship without really living.) Often, the BEST things in life are experiences that we wouldn't choose. Perhaps-- when our life is said and done and we are rocking on our front porch telling stories, our favorite stories will be those that we might have missed if we could have chosen to avoid them. Perhaps, even things in life that seem like trials are really blessings in disguise.
The ability to choose is one of our greatest gifts. I pray that I will always SEE my choices and choose wisely. Every day is a gift.
God grant me the wisdom to choose the things I can choose.
Grant me patience to accept the things I have already chosen.
Grant me hope as I endure the things I have not chosen.
Help me love those who choose differently.
Bless me with reflection to learn from the past and vision to see clearly the choices ahead of me.
And as I continue to learn and climb, bless me to enjoy my journey.
Life is beautiful.
Choose wisely, and be filled with joy.