He looks across the table and tells you that he doesn't love you anymore. What do you do? She sits in the courtroom and watches the drunk driver whose actions killed her daughter. What do you do? He comes home from school and informs you that he's hooked on drugs. What do you do? She is injured for life in a terrible accident and now you must care for her. What do you do?
What do you do when there are so many things that can "go wrong" in life? How do you face the painful, and often unpredictable, situations that take place in the world around us, causing us to question everything we've believed in or hoped for. What do you do?
Over the years, I have come to learn a profound truth about living: every moment there is a choice. In everything that goes on, be it of my own direct actions or that of another's, I have a choice to make as to how I will let the story end. Will I let the sorrow run my life, or will I choose to be open to Grace? Will I allow the bitterness to define me, or will I choose to forgive? Will I shut myself off to love, or will I choose to love - even against my own instincts? When my humanness tells me to run, to escape, to try to get a "new start" somewhere else, will I make the choice to do the un-human thing - to go beyond my own selfish feelings and do the hard act: to give grace because Grace has been given to me? Can I? Will I?
This question has become quite meaningful to me as I have faced certain difficulties in my life. In those moments when I am struggling to walk into something I have dreaded, when I am fearful of how somebody will respond, when I am at war with myself as to what I am to do, this is what I say: "This is a moment for choosing. Which way will you go?"
Life will always run its course and yet, we have a say in how it will impact us in the future. The choice we make, makes us. Which direction we decide to go - toward sorrow or toward Grace, toward bitterness or toward forgiveness, away from love or toward it - determines how our life-story is written. One day, when others look back on your life, what will they see? Will they see someone who never let go, who held in the pain, who never ran the risk of loving through the hard times, who never forgave? Or will they see someone who went against their own feelings, who chose the path of Grace, who found joy in their sorrow, who made the choice to love - even if the love was never returned?
Being open to Grace often means that we will experience uneven love, which is to say that our actions may not always bring about the results that we hope for. Even when we make the choice to do the hard thing, others may not respect us for it or support our decision. They may not receive the forgiveness we have offered them; they may not love us back - even if we have tried our utmost to love them; they may not understand why we continue to demonstrate our care toward them when they feel as though they don't deserve it; they may be baffled by the way in which we smile in our sorrow. But will we choose to do it anyway?
Every moment presents a choice. When it arrives, when the decision must be made, what will we choose to do ? If we choose rightly, if we choose the way of Grace, we will gain strength in that moment. We will know the blessing of His peace. We will know joy.