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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pivotal Choices


Sometimes in life, we have pivotal moments arrive in which we have to make decisions of one form or another, and that one decision makes all the difference for everything that occurs afterwards, just like a chain of dominoes.  

That one moment, that one choice, that one opportunity of a lifetime is the moment when it is critical to make the kind of choice that won’t haunt you for the rest of your life.  

Are you finding this concept one relevant for you?  Perhaps because of a career decision, perhaps because of choices related to divorce, perhaps…well, you can fill in the blank.

I remember when I was going through my divorce, there were a couple of matters that had to be decided, and my attorney drew a distinction between the two.  One issue, she indicated, would be an issue that would evolve and change as time passed, and my decision would relate to how it would be handled at the outset.  The other issue, however, was one that once decided could not be reversed, and so she encouraged me to decide carefully and thoughtfully, and then double checked the answer before filing the appropriate papers.  There are lots of decisions that parallel both of these.

My most recent book, Finding Strength in a Season of Caregiving, is one that comes out of my experience in caring for my parents in the sunset years of their lives.  They had desires of how they would like to spend the last years of their lives, and for those desires to be fulfilled, if I chose to help meet them, meant that a lot of my own life plans had to be placed on the back burner.  But many a time I would repeat a little mantra that came to mean a lot during that time:  you only get one chance to decide how you will be there for your parents when they are aging.  

As an ordained minister, I have been around many families in the midst of grief, and some of those families included individuals weighed down with a great deal of regret for all the things they did not do, did not get settled, did not say.  Perhaps that is part of what beckoned me to choose wisely so as not to regret the irreversible decisions I would be making.  

There is an interesting biblical example for such moments in life.  Hebrews 12:15-17 warns against missing the opportunity to obtain God’s grace, and illustrates the discussion with the story of Esau, who sold away his birthright to his brother, Jacob, for a something to eat at a time when he was hungry (the entire story is found in Genesis 25).  In his desire for fleeting satisfaction, Esau gave up his entire future, because he made his choice based on impulse and his earthly needs, not on the priority of spiritual discipline.  Hebrews said he regretted his choice afterwards, but the decision could not be reversed, even though he cried for it in his heartache.

I encouraged you to go back and read the story, and then ask yourself what are the choices that stand before YOU in life?  A lot of choices during divorce entail far reaching consequences.  I’d like to say that I have always made the best choices, but some choices have not worked out as I thought they would, and I have to deal with the things I cannot reverse, myself.  These choices might be in relation to your parents, or to your children.  They might be about a career, or about a retirement.  Of course, the most critical choice any of us faces is the choice of what we will do in regard to the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross.  Of all the choices in life, it is critical that choice especially be made wisely, for the irreversible consequences of that choice impact each of us not only in this world, but for all eternity in the world to come.  How are you doing with the “only one chance” questions of your life?

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