There have been many times in the past where situations have required pensive decisions. Decisions that have been based on choices. Some of those choices have been momentous with much time taken judging the merits of multiple options, and then having to select one or more of them.
I’m not talking about simple choices that have relatively low-impact on my life, but the more complex ones that have been influenced by many factors and had larger ramifications.
Most people regard having choices as a good thing, but I have found that the more difficult choices have limited, or more artificially restricted options, which may lead to discomfort and maybe unsatisfactory outcomes. At the time the consequences aren’t obvious, only rearing their ugly heads after a decision has been made. It too late then. The choice is over.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say there have been a few regrets of the alternatives not taken. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s part of life, daily, we must choose the path to tread. The fabric of our relationships, beliefs and values are based on what we choose.
It’s very easy to get side-tracked by insignificant issues in life. If you spend a lot of time on trivial stuff, you won’t have time to contemplate things that matter and make decisions that are consistent with core beliefs and values. Not doing this invariably leads to regret.
Learning from my experiences, and the experiences of others that have shared my life – family, friends or those who have crossed my path even in the smallest degree – have shown me lessons in choosing. Do I apply those lessons, and more to the point, do I apply them well?
Recently I lived through a family situation where decisions had to be made. For all intents and purposes I was an outsider looking in. There was no big confrontation or sidelining of decisions as they weren’t mine to make, but it brought home to me how my past choices had in many ways led to this moment in time.
My actions, changes in my life, and the choices I made, were now staring me in the face. They were in many ways challenging me and holding me to account.
It was a classic example of the ‘Elephant in the Room’.
I had heard this expression, and dismissed it often with a shrug, smugly upholding my inner belief that I had attained complete openness and transparency, in my behaviour, and relationships.
The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue which is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment, or trigger arguments or is simply taboo.
The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, but in this case I chose to silently ignore it. I suppose I could have tackled it head on, playing into the tension and highly charged unspoken atmosphere, but wisdom prevailed.
Ignoring it didn’t make it go away, but it did give me the choice to suppress the hollow feelings in my stomach, and move towards God’s grace and peace.
There have been many times that I have turned to this passage in Ephesians, especially when I had to make choices, standing secure in the knowledge that God’s armour was my defence against any attack on my mind, body or soul.
For this reason, take up the whole armour of God so that you may be able to take a stand whenever evil comes. And when you have done everything you could, you will be able to stand firm.
The Elephant in the Room wasn’t welcome. It was part of my past that was well and truly just that, my past. I wasn’t going to second guess myself or those who shared the room, I wasn’t going to relive the past, it’s a waste of valuable time and energy and nothing good would come of it.
God has shown me that life’s not about checking an item off my to-do list or trying to impress others with how busy and in control I am. It’s not a billboard for my behaviour.
Life’s about being content with where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going. It’s about being proud of who you are, what you represent, and the impact that you’re having on others.
This begins and ends with the choices that you make.
I didn’t choose to be in this family situation, it had evolved through no fault of past choices made, but I did realise though, that had other choices been made, I wouldn’t be facing the ‘Elephant’ right now and right here.
At that moment in time, I just stood.
I took God at his word. The ‘Elephant in the Room’ was too big for me, just a mocking giant trying to intimidate and bring fear. Just like David killing Goliath, I gathered my ammunition of truth and took aim.
Searching my heart, I asked myself if I had done all that I could?
Did I believe and stand on God’s word?
The Elephant left the room. The right choices have been made, and restoration has been completed. I have learned another lesson of life.
I choose to live in the truth, I choose to believe, I choose to love.