Posts Tagged ‘choice’

You Have a Choice

January 23, 2017

You cannot always chose what life will throw at you.

You can choose your response. Maybe after an initial outburst of “Why me, God?”

I teach soccer referees, give the player or coach leeway on an initial emotional exclamation. You get kicked. It hurts. You exclaim something. It may not be nice. But it hurt. After that, there is a choice. Keep it up or shut up.

Sometimes what comes at us is a result of choices.

We can choose lots of fried food and sodas.

Where did that overweight come from? The stomach and digestive tract issues? The cancer of the gall bladder (or elsewhere)?

We chose.

Our friend suggests something fun to do. We choose. We get into trouble. (What person who has survived being a teenager can say that never happened?)

We chose.

We devote ourselves to helping other people.

Another choice.

Sometimes someone you know is not aware of their issues. But to offer unwanted advice is never welcome.

You choose to be quiet until the appropriate time.

Choices. We make thousands per day. Choose wisely.

What Have The Years Wrought With You

November 29, 2016

I knew a woman who was kind and funny. She got a job as a police dispatcher. Within a couple of years she became negative, cynical, joyless.

She dealt daily with criminals, people with stories about how they wound up  on the wrong side of the law, drug dealers, drug users. She seldom saw beauty and truth. There were no random acts of kindness.

I felt so sad.

When I reflect on the last year, one thing stands out–how many people have lost their kindness, their grace toward others, their joy.


I came across this thought while reading through my eclectic information gathering.

How have circumstances affected us?

Have we become more hardened, resentful, afraid?

These actually go together. Fear is at the root of many negative emotions. Fear of loss. Fear of the future. Fear of someone taking my job. Fear of others whom I do not know. Fear of the future.

However, we all know people (I hope) who have grown wise and understanding as they age. They no longer have anything to prove. They see that others have struggles, too. They see evil or foolishness and avoid it. They walk with God.

The Dalai Lama points to a wisdom that we also find throughout the Proverbs. It is our choice.

Every day we arise and we begin making choices. We can fill our minds with words of wisdom. We can fill our minds with the news headlines. Our choice.

We can choose how we react to the news. Do we allow our emotions to go crazy and get all worked up? Do we take a breath and allow the perspective of God to let us see beyond the news.

It’s not that I wish to ignore bad news and act as if it didn’t exist. That is a sign of mental illness. It’s just that I choose what I focus on.

We become what we think about.

Humility Is So Misunderstood

August 11, 2016

Being a humble person does not equal being a weak person.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

It takes great strength of character and personality to be humble.

19th Century philosophers (whose thinking still infects people) obsessed over power and powerful people. Most famous was Nietzsche and his Übermensch, translated in the comic books as “Superman.”

Today, many people, and evidently the popular press, still celebrate powerful people, especially men.

Yesterday I discussed pride. The antidote to pride is humility. We read in the Proverbs “Pride goes before a fall.” Jesus said, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 12)

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. — Jesus

Humility merely means to put others first. To many in America–and evidently in many other places–putting others first is weak. But, pride and striving to achieve power over people is actually a manifestation of an inner weakness.

Putting others first means that my first response isn’t about me. Pride is “all about me.” It’s trying to make myself look better than I am.

We can develop a discipline around humility. For some, it probably comes to them naturally. Or maybe they were raised from infancy to consider others first. That would be me.

We can become self-aware about when our thoughts are moving toward “me first” and choose to consider other people.

The first step is that thought, that moment in time when we can choose, that moment in life before it becomes just a part of who we are.

We can choose.

Hold a door open for someone is a start. Help carry a physical burden. As we grow, we can help someone carry an emotional burden. We can listen to others. I don’t mean hear noise. Listen. With attention. Not with a busy mind thinking of our response or the beach.

Humility is a choice–a choice for life with-God.

I’m Doing A Great Work

July 21, 2016

I’m doing a great work, and I cannot come down. — Nehemiah

Still focusing on focus. This morning I was thinking about various people in the Bible and came across Nehemiah.

He was an important official in the Persian Empire toward the end of the “Babylonian Captivity” period of Jewish history. His brother returned from a trip to Jerusalem with a description about how the once great city was now a laughing stock. It seems the walls had never been rebuild since the Babylonians had conquered the city some 70 years or more before.

A city without walls? Impossible!

This touched Nehemiah’s heart and he determined that his life’s work was now to rebuild those walls. You can read the entire story in the book that bears his name. It’s short, but powerful. A great lesson in leadership. And in focus.

From that day forward, Nehemiah focused on that mission and what he could do to accomplish it.

Skipping toward the end, he went to Jerusalem with the king’s blessing and set about rebuilding the walls. When the nation’s local enemies determined that he was serious and about to accomplish the project, they sent for him to come down from the mountain for a meeting. Most likely they were going to kill him. But Nehemiah sent a reply, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.”

His focus was incredible.

He accomplished his mission.

So, we may not have a mission that great. But reading the practical advice that Paul gives the Colossians helps us bring it home.

“Set your mind on things that are above.”

Set your mind on things that are above.

We choose that which we focus on. Either we choose mindfully. Or, we choose lazily, just drifting to what feels good or influenced by peers or advertising to just follow shallow desires.

What do we choose to focus upon today?

Easter Comes, Then What’s Next

March 28, 2016

The day of the crucifixion came and afterwards Jesus’ friends and followers hid out in a locked house for fear the authorities might come after them.

On the third day, some ventured out to perform funeral rituals. Problem–no body. Then Jesus began appearing to various ones.

They were still confused. Some scattered. A bunch returned home to the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. They really had no clue what came next. It took a while to digest the experiences.

Then the Spirit came. They were on fire. There was no stopping them. They didn’t build “churches,” they shared a new way to live. And the new faithful indeed did live differently from their neighbors. Differently in a way that attracted others.

The theme in my reading over the past couple of days has been centered on what’s an after-Easter life.

That is why we practice what are known as spiritual disciplines–regular Bible reading, meditation, prayer, service, prayer, worship. The days after can slip into the old routine. Starting new habits is hard.  We must be intentional in our new life.

For most of us, that “Easter moment” happened many years ago. But as the Righteous Brothers sang so movingly, we’ve “lost that loving feeling.”

What better time than after the Easter celebrations to develop new habits with intention. Not just slipping into a mindless routine. Choose our routines.

Live out Easter daily.

Choose If You Can

May 5, 2015

How much free will do you have over your choices?

When you go to the store, are you buying because you need or want something–or are you buying because of the message of an enticing advertisement that made the product so appealing?

At a deeper level, are you making choices based on emotional reaction or with a clear head?

My friend Jim Pinto who wrote a column on the business of automation for me for 10 years has taken to writing on philosophical issues in his retirement. He published a blog on April 27 pondering all the aspects of choice.

Scientists who study the brain debate the amount of free will we actually have. Some think we have none. A philosophy taught in English departments for many years is that everything is culturally derived. Therefore you cannot make general statements. Oops, pardon me English scholars, but I  believe you made a general statement.

The philosophy du jour when I was an undergrad was existentialism. These people looked at life and observed that there would be a few times, maybe only one, where a person will make a decision–the existential decision–that is a determining factor in the rest of their life.

This is not the decision about Irish breakfast tea or jasmine infused green tea. This is the decision that the apostle John talked about (1 John) where he said we must choose to follow the light or to follow darkness.

We have so many choices to make daily–that’s why some people like Steve Jobs wear the same type of clothing every day, it reduces a decision–that we can be lost in decision. It is the paradox of too many choices.

But, there are a few choices that we make daily that determine what sort of life we will lead. It pays great dividends in the future to ponder at the end of every day whether we made the right decisions in important  circumstances. 

We have so many options, so many opinions, so many influencers, that making the right choice requires intentional effort.

Go and do the hard work.