Choice. A powerful word, an empowering concept. It has helped me reframe everything that I do and helped me to better own my life. Rather than feeling like a victim of my circumstance or the people around me, I choose what I do, how I react and what I believe. I am no longer dependent on others for my happiness, worth, or even desirability. I make the choices that influence what I believe about myself.
But choice is not just about how I act, it is what must be granted to feel chosen. If I want to feel desired, than I must let the other choose. I cannot make that happen. But when I become the person that God created me to be, and stop trying to control things that I do not control, then I make it possible for others to choose me.
From the beginning of time God has given us choice. He instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge, and then He let them choose. Would they trust Him and His goodness for them? Would they choose Him, or would they chase after their own desires and suffer the consequences?
We face constant choices. We may not control our circumstances, but we choose how we handle our circumstances.
Taking responsibility for ourselves and our choices, requires maturity and courage. It is much easier to cast blame on others or the situation at hand, just like Adam and Eve did.
“The serpent made me do it!” replied Eve.
“She gave me the fruit!”, Adam cried.
“I have no one to help me…”
“If only my husband connected with me emotionally then…”
“My wife doesn’t have enough sex with me so I…”
We spend enormous energy casting blame on others. We spew, accuse, vent, cry, stomp our feet, and retreat in silence, while grappling to control that which we cannot control. Satan has deceived us and we eventually indulge in playing the role of victim.
“I cannot be happy unless he makes me happy.”
“If she would make love to me, then I would feel like a man.”
“His desire will prove that I am worth choosing.”
And we lose sight of the power we hold. But the truth is that we choose who we become, how we act, and what we believe about ourselves.
Choice gives us agency. Rather than blaming others, we take responsibility for ourselves and become an actor in our own life. We get to decide how we live; how much we love and who we serve. Rather than waiting for the other, we go first. Rather than doing things as a way to convince others of their need to change, we do them simply out of love. Regardless of how poorly someone treats us, we choose to treat them with love. (And I don’t mean to let them mistreat us. Sometimes the most loving thing that we do is to draw a line in the sand and say, “this is not ok”). But we have the power to choose to do things differently – to love others and extend compassion – even when they are not acting very loveable.
God Himself shows us the way… Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God did not wait until we chose Him. In fact, some of us may never choose Him. But Christ chose us anyway.
Can we do the same for the impatient grocery clerk that is having a bad day, by extending compassion, patience and kindness? What about our husband that just doesn’t seem to understand how their silence makes us feel unloved?
What would happen if we put the responsibility for our actions squarely on our own shoulders? Not so that we can feel superior, or convince our spouse that they need help, but simply because we choose to love. Can you imagine how empowering it would be to pause when you feel like reacting and remind yourself, I have the power to choose who I want to be and how I treat those I care about.
Loving others is not becoming who they want you to be. Loving others is becoming the person that God created you to be. We treat others with respect and love, and we become more like Christ. As we begin to feel better about ourselves, we become less needy. Choosing to love becomes something that fill us up – not drains us. We don’t have to, we want to. We choose.
While I have the power to choose my husband, I am slowly facing the fact that I cannot make my husband choose me. Sure, I might complain enough that my husband starts doing those things because he loves me. Or I might tearfully share all the ways he has disappointed me as a way to covertly produce the reassurance of his devotion. I might even share a podcast, hoping that he will learn what I deem important. But if I orchestrate my husband’s behavior, then has he really chosen me? Have I given him a choice?
In order for my husband to choose me, I must let go of trying to control him. Because whether Jim realizes it or not, I know the covert ways that I have tried to feel chosen. If I want Jim to choose me, then I must grow up and stop demanding. I don’t want Jim to love me because I am needy. I want him to choose me, because I am worth choosing. All I have control over is me.
So I shift my focus from Jim, and work toward becoming a woman that is worth choosing. Over and over, every day, I let go of Jim and choose to work on me. What can I do differently? How can I be more open? Do I really want to know him, or do I just want him to give me the answers that I want? Am I sharing my feelings to be more open, or to covertly guilt him into changing? Am I making him responsible or blaming him for my unhappiness, or am I taking care of myself. I stop trying to make him choose me and become a woman that I believe is worth choosing.
Then when Jim does choose me, through the myriad of ways that he cares and love me every day, it feels real. He did it on his own without my help. He chose me.
What if you start viewing life through the lens of choice?