I was talking with a friend the other day, and she was sharing about a friend of hers and her parenting techniques. Honestly, I have to keep from rolling my eyes in the midst of these conversations, but then she said, “Everything comes back to this, ‘Are you making GOOD choices?’” Huh. She had me. I don’t know that I have ever asked my children that, and when you think about the empowerment that acknowledging the significance of choice gives, it really is amazing! Because we discount it, push it aside, ignore it – UNTIL we make a BAD choice.
Because I’m a daydreamer, I faded off and I began to imagine the significance that would make as they grew up, as they started dating (or chose not to), as they developed friendships, as they went off to college, and then as they chose a mate. Then I stopped. What a lovely picture! Imagine good choices in marriage – of choosing to forgive instead of holding a grudge, of choosing not to be unfaithful when your needs aren’t being met, of choosing to act in love instead of anger!
I had the opportunity to review a new book by Gary and Norma Smalley called “Four Days to a Forever Marriage: Choosing Love or Anger.” This is the exact premise of that book. As spouses we are so content to just be, to deal, to settle with what we have, we don’t want to choose to make it better. We use excuses like “I’m too tired to work on my marriage, I’m just trying to get through the day.” Or, “I read a book once, it didn’t help so I haven’t bought another one.” Or, “I know the Bible says to submit to your husband and stuff, but look at our culture, it’s just not the same.” I know these excuses pretty well; I’ve used them. But this book takes you through the day in the life of a couple, their struggles and their fears and in four short days you gain the understanding that it’s all about the choices we make…and making GOOD choices.
If you think about it, it’s not doing anything more but paying attention to what we are doing! The Smalleys walk you through those daily choices and questions, and you are forced to take a good look at the bad choices we unconsciously make. Like a good friend says, “Not to choose is still a choice.”
I can choose not to talk to Brian when I am angry, but what am I communicating in my body language, in my actions? Most likely I am fighting him without saying a word, and he feels it. A GOOD choice is swallowing my resentment and saying, “I am ticked, but I’m willing to share with you why I feel this way in the hopes that we can make it right.”
I can choose to put others first. The Smalleys point out that we often do this without realizing. Anyone in ministry knows that this is a hard one. I would never tell Brian, ”I love strangers more than I love you.” But, when I consistently choose to reschedule dates or leave after the kids go to bed, to mentor and to minister others, subconsciously that is what I am saying. A GOOD choice would be to put firm lines or boundaries between ministering to others and time with my spouse that says, “You are important enough to me that I am making sure that we have time together.” That speaks love and respect.
Lord knows, I’m not perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect, and I’m not gonna even attempt to write a book about how imperfect a parent I am, and chances are GOOD that my home-life and relationships look like any of yours. But, this book begged me to ask the question, the same question that wise and learned parent asks of her kids every day, the question that I often hear from Daddy God, “Are you making GOOD choices?” If I’m one hundred percent truthful (which I try to be) I answer, “Not usually,” but it’s not too late to start. And my first GOOD choice was investing 4 days into reading that book. (Did you notice that it’s only for 4 days? I’ve done no carb diets for longer with less long-lasting effects!) I only wish it had been around BEFORE I got married, twelve years in it might have saved us some pain from making some really BAD choices.