Keeping Hope Alive…by Choosing Life

Choose Life!

                  I have set before you today life and death, blessing and cursing…..therefore, choose life.

                                                                                                            Deuteronomy 30:19

If I had to choose a motto that I heard from childhood and have lived by and quoted for my entire life, it would be “Watch extremes”.   My dad applied that to many situations, and so can I.       However,  from my own life’s journey, my personal motto would have to be Choose life.

In mid-adulthood, as I was going through the beginning of a mid-life transition, I was also teaching a large weekday Bible study for women.  The format for that study was highly structured, and while I had taught Bible studies for years, I felt a lot of pressure to fit the mold of the program director.  That rigid format and the particular women who were in the Bible study hooked every insecurity I had at the time, but I learned a lot from the hard experience.

While teaching the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Old Testament– during the first year, I came upon God’s counsel to the children of Israel.  Newly liberated from slavery in Egypt, the Hebrew people met one challenge after another in their long walk to freedom.  Those challenges evoked their fears and regrets, prompted conflict with each other, doubts about Moses’ leadership and crises of faith in this invisible God.  Their long journey to the Promised Land was instructive for the long journey to freedom from my personal complexes, character defects and codependency.   And I am still on that journey, one day at a time.

I will never forget the moment when I came upon these words from God to those wandering pilgrims, many of whom were likely frustrated and frightened.  The words choose life stood out to me as if they were in neon light, and they have guided me for over thirty years.

Having read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in college, I had learned about freedom and choice from his account of his experience in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.  Frankl observed that the freedom to choose our responses to the circumstances is the last freedom we have.   As we live, the freedom that cannot ultimately be taken from us is the power to choose.  By our countless choices we don’t even realize we have, we choose life or death, blessing or curse.  By my choices, I shape my life.

By my choosing in big issues and in small, I either choose life-giving attitudes, behaviors and habits or death-dealing ones.  By my choices, I open up more choices or slam the door on others.

I am perfectly free to repeat self-defeating beliefs, outright lies that support a negative point of view or a story that reinforces self-sabotage.  I am free to talk and act in destructive ways; but I don’t get to choose the consequences of those destructive ways.

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