Many years ago, I was visiting my grandmother in the home where she was being taken care of for advanced-stage Alzheimer’s. By this time, she was withdrawn, had zero short term memory, and didn’t know who anyone was. At one point of the visit, our mostly one-sided conversation lulled and to fill empty space, I said with a sigh, “Well?” In an extremely rare ‘sharp as a tack’ moment, she stoically and cleverly replied, “Deep hole in the ground.” My eyes widened, I chuckled, and wondered how in the world that bubbled to the top for her.
I will undoubtedly need to make in the coming year. I hope to slow my pace and consider the consequences as I lower my bucket. I desire to dip from the deep hole in the ground my grandmother spoke of. The deep hole that provides water from the Source Himself. (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV) I hope to choose well in 2020.
When I first realized that trauma from my childhood and my marriage were a part of my life, I learned from a therapist that others make their choices and must live with their consequences. But the same is true for me. I must make my choices and live with my consequences. This felt validating, but the ramifications of its truth scared the “you know what” out of me.
When I began to wrap my recovering people-pleasing head around this, no longer were other people’s choices dictating my life. So often, I would depend on others to tell me how to act and feel. I had a lot of internal healing work to really allow this truth to take root in order to believe in who I am. I’ve had to work hard to learn to trust myself. I’m still not great at it, but I’ve come a long way!
No longer could I allow other people’s consequences to drive me. I’m in charge of my choices, and hopefully, my choices are guided by my faith in Christ and my desire to become who He created me to be.
This lesson from my therapist began its “Intro to Codependency” work in me over eight years ago. I think of it often. Almost daily. Realizing how unhealthy I had become in losing my sense of self, this statement quickly became a mantra.
Your choice. Your consequence.
My choice. My consequence.
Sure, the consequences of other people’s choices affect me. Boy, do they ever! When the old familiar messages play, I have to remind myself the choices of others don’t drive me, nor am I am responsible for their consequences.
I am responsible for me. For my healing. For my choices. And I must acknowledge that I will have to live with the consequences of the choices that I make. That’s not to say, in choosing well, the consequences will be easy. Rarely will it turn out that doing the right thing will come with an easy button. Sometimes making the right choice produces hardship and leads to a measure of grief. But when our choices take us on the path to becoming who we were created to be, our heads rest lighter on our pillow at night and rise braver in the morning.
As 2019 ticked away and I thought of all the possibilities 2020 will bring, I considered what choices I might face. Some will be ‘life in the daily’ choices, and others could be choices that change the trajectory of my life. I no longer fear them as much as I once did.
- I know who I am. I have done the hard and holy work to heal my heart, my mind, and my body. I haven’t arrived (I never will), but I am more self-aware, stronger, and braver than I have ever been before.
- I know whose I am. God is my faithful Father. Even though my doubt gets a little bossy on occasion, He has proven Himself trustworthy and tender. He helps me in my unbelief. He helps me be brave. He gives me the courage to face my “beast” head-on.
So, what will you do with your choices in the coming year? Do you know who you are? Do you know whose you are? Will you choose well with me in 2020?
Here are a few choices for you to consider:
Guilt and shame weigh us down like a heavy, itchy, wool coat. Take that coat off. Unbutton each button, slip your arms out one at a time and toss it in the garbage. Let it go. Now, slip on something loose and soft, free from binding elastic and annoying tags. Friends, this is what grace feels like when accepted for yourself and when offered to others. Choose grace.
When you choose to hope, you are choosing to audaciously believe that believing is worth it. That breathing is worth it. Hope is a gift from God. He places it in front of us in a variety of creative ways to keep us moving forward – toward Him. In all its elusive properties, hope is very real. Hope is life. Choose hope.
Sorrow and joy go hand in hand. Without one, we would not know the other. When we choose a lifestyle of gratitude, even amid sadness and pain, a lifestyle of joy can flourish. One that might bear gifts that surprise you. The path to joy may not be easy, but the rewards are great. May our eyes notice it, our hearts receive it, and our hands share it. Choose joy.
Choosing to be kind may not fix anything externally, but it can heal the internal. In a world filled with circumstances beyond our control, and where being heard, being right, and climbing the ladder trends, kindness can be a game-changer. It is, as the scripture says, a sweet fruit (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) that is sure to bear witness of a generous and humble heart. “When given the choice between being right or kind, choose kind.” R. J. Palacio, Wonder
We were created for love – to be loved and to love. Allowing ourselves to be loved can be a vulnerable prospect, but to give love to others, we must first receive it for ourselves. We can’t pour from an empty cup. We must receive love from the One who perfectly loves before we can love others well. Choose love.
Those who live with the most fear are those who are the bravest. How do we know this? Because they are breathing. They are living! They are making a daily, or possibly minute by minute choice to face uncertainty with strength and courage. With Christ by our side, the One who assures us His perfect love casts out fear; we can trust Him to help us be brave. Choose brave.
How can you choose well in 2020? Will you acknowledge that you have a choice? For some of us, that is a critical first step. Join me in choosing well in 2020. I’d be humbled and honored to walk this out with you.
A dear and talented friend, Danielle Brower, asked me to write the “choose” blurbs that I’ve shared above as descriptions for one of her product lines. She has built a business, Create Hope Cuffs, founded on encouraging, inspiring, and healing words that you can wear on your wrist as a reminder to stay focused. I invite you to check out her business page and order a beautiful, hand-crafted piece from her with any of these phrases on them or a custom word or phrase of your choice (see what I did there). Seriously, go check out her work. You will not regret it.
BONUS: USE THE DISCOUNT CODE “20CHOOSE” FOR 20% OFF YOUR ORDER. (Good through January 31, 2020)
My beautiful and amazingly wise friend, Aundi Kolber, has written a book, Try Softer. Her message of trying softer is a breath of fresh air in our white-knuckled world. She offers us a space of grace to embrace the word, “try”. She also gives us the tools and counsel we need in order to try softer.
“Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.” ~Amazon
Photo credit: Create Hope Cuffs, used with permission.