Decisions are an everyday part of life. And every decision results in a consequence of some kind, good or bad. If I decide to turn off my alarm and sleep an extra 30 minutes, the consequences are rushing to get ready for my day and leaving the house a later than usual. For every 5 minutes later that I enter the freeway, I reap an additional 10 minutes in Houston traffic. Was that extra sleep really worth the added stress to my day and drive? Honestly, it depends on the day. But, usually, I regret that decision to stay in bed. And yet, I have this conversation with myself every single morning.
We all make decisions. We decide to do the dishes tonight or wait until later. In school, it was when (or maybe if) I would study for a test or do my homework. Every interaction with others begs a decision: will I be kind and respectful, distant and unattached, or pushy and rude? Sometimes a decision to NOT decide becomes your decision by forcing another to make the call. At least that way, I have plausible deniability, right? It’s not really my responsibility, because YOU decided this one. Why is making a decision so daunting at times? Even when it’s a “good” decision, we seem to fear the consequences of our very actions. Why?
Maybe this is what we fear: ME. My “personal preference meter” isn’t a very reliable source for making decisions. When MY happiness, MY comfort becomes more important than how it affects the ones that depend upon and trust me, the consequences may be difficult to live with on a long term basis. Our society has become more and more focused on doing what is makes “me” happy as the optimal decision bias. Even though reality proves that the “happiness” is fleeting and this temporary enjoyment could very likely lead to long term misery.
We’ve seen evidence of this all throughout the Bible: Eve chose to eat the apple; Abraham had a son with Hagar; David gave into his desire for another man’s wife with Bathsheba. There are examples in our lives every day: telling the “white” lie to cover-up; condoning gossip and back-biting in order to be accepted; sneaking around outside of your marriage to get some “excitement”. We have come to believe the absolute lie that we deserve happiness. Truthfully, no one deserves happiness. Happiness is a daily choice, NOT a destination. You can chase happiness, but you will not find it. And when our decisions are based on finding happiness, the consequences will be empty and quite often painful.
So, in this carnival we call life, when we choose all the fun and exciting regardless of personal morals or conscience, consequences can be overwhelming. Much like too much time on the Tilt-a-Whirl you are left off-balance, dizzy and maybe a little ill. When the excitement wears off and the happiness is no longer palpable, guilt moves in to fill the void. You can’t go back and undo your actions or unsay the words. You can only live within this moment. Eve chose the apple and mankind would forever have sin in our lives. The consequences of Abraham’s choice to have a son with Hagar are still being played out in our world. In an attempt to cover up his wrong decision, David would go on to commit murder and saw his own son eventually turn against him. But, in each case, these people continued to seek God. They were now on a different path in life and God would use them anyway.
We’ve all heard the saying “You made your bed, now lie in it.” The consequences will be there, even after forgiveness. We must choose to make better choices and decisions. Decide to move forward toward God’s will and plan for your life regardless of the current situation. Avoid getting caught up in the endless whirlwind of running toward the next “ME” moment. Accept the consequences and work through them. Look out for those who depend upon you and put their needs first. Make the decision to be happy today, where you are, even if you can’t understand how that could possibly happen. You won’t make an instant difference, but you will invest in the future.
Consequences, both good and bad are what we reap. Make your harvest one of which you are proud.
“Well, you’ve made your bed – now lie in it; you wanted your own way – now, how do you like it?” Proverbs 1:31 MSG