Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Choices

I've been feeling relatively uninspired over the last couple of days, so I asked God to give me inspiration.  What I got was a really rough day, or so I thought.  I woke up yesterday morning to the smell of uncovered cat litter, coffee that didn't turn on, and my newest cuddly friend, Simba, chewing on my finger.  "Good morning to You, too, Father," I said still half asleep. I had a lot to get done yesterday, but the day's biggest events were Ashton's first Cub Scouts pack meeting at 6:00 and the commencement of the women's Bible Study at my church at 6:30.  Because we only have one car and I wasn't willing to miss the first night of this season's study, Sam and I agreed over a week ago that I would drop him and Ashton off for the pack meeting at 6:00, drive from there to my Bible Study which was in different city, and then be back in time to pick them up around 8:00. It would be tight, but as long as we left on time it could be done. For days I had been reminding my nortoriously late husband that he needed to wrap up his work in time to be home by at least 5:30.  "I'll be there," he reassured me in a tone that sounded suspiciously exasperated.  "You have to be on time," I said again in my most threatening voice. Without even having to say it, I knew "or else" was emanating from my stern expression.  He and I both knew that I would make him pay if he was late, or God forbid made me miss my Bible Study.  How "Christian" of me, right?  Well, he was late...

My mom has always teased me about my dependency on a GPS, but as my cousin and I have agreed, reliance on one's own sound sense of adventure can quickly find you asking the neighborhood crime lord for directions right before he steals your purse and car.  Unless you've grown up in California and know the L.A. areas, driving without a GPS just isn't always a stellar idea, and I've only lived here for five years.  Well, amidst an already packed schedule and running errands in uncharted territory earlier in the day, mine happened to go out on me.  However, because I wasn't directly in Los Angeles and I was slightly ahead of schedule, I decided to brave it and see where the good Lord wanted to take me. He must have tuned in to my hunger pains and Ashton's full bladder because we found ourselves in the parking lot of Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ.  Unfortunately, within only minutes of finishing our meal, I felt nauseous and light headed.  The day was getting rough and it was far from being over. Though I still needed to stop at the store to grab some treats for the evening's Bible Study, I only felt like going home to lie down.  "I'll have time on our way out," I told myself as I cautiously trusted Sam to be on time.

During Ashton's first week of school, there was an event called "Back to School Night" which parents were required to attend. The children weren't allowed to be present, so I told Sam I would go and he could stay home with Ashton.  "Just be home in time for me to get there, because it's mandatory that one of us go" I began telling him a week in advance.  Well, long story short, I didn't make it to Back to School night that week.  Instead, I was given a letter of reprimand the following day by his school's principal. As I resentfully tucked the letter away, I vowed not to make Sam feel guilty for his extreme tardiness that night.  Contrary to my usual tendencies, I actually kept my vow.  I didn't push him into a pool of guilt, but instead was rather supportive.  "It wasn't your fault" and "I understand" are the shocking words that God actually managed to form on my tongue.  Until last night.

Because Sam doesn't watch time when he's working, I began calling him around 4:30 to make sure he was wrapping up, but he didn't answer.  After two more calls and no answer I began to nervously watch the clock and fret about how I would be in two places at once if he didn't show up.  "He knows how important this evening's first Bible Study is to me," I thought in rising anger.  Mentally, I was already forming the lecture I would deliver if he forced me to choose between my study and Ashton's pack meeting.  At 5:04, I dialed his number again, and this time he answered.  "I'm on my way," he confirmed.  "By how much and how many miles?" I asked in suspicion.  He was 34 miles away with less than an hour to make it in time, and it was then that I broke my vow from the week before.  I threw "Back to School Night" in his face.

"I know you have work commitments, but you have commitments to your family too, and you've known about this for over a week" I said in an increasingly angry tone.  I knew I needed to just get off the phone before I said something completely and utterly unproductive, but before I did, I resentfully reminded him of how he failed to be on time just last week for Back to School Night.  "Well, God, this is ridiculous," I said to the Lord in my mind's side conversation, but before I let God respond I tightened my boxing gloves and held Sam in the left corner a few more minutes.  "Just call me when you're closer so I can figure out alternate plans if need be," I huffily said before hanging up.  After I got off the phone, I turned the volume up on my conversation with God.  "What God? What do you want me to learn or take from this situation?" I asked in frustration, and then He opened my eyes.

It's true, Sam is notoriously late for almost everything, but how fortunate I am that he's here at all.  Should I focus on his perpetual tardiness or the gift of his existence? God began painting a picture in my mind after I asked for His lesson and the picture began with a single mother at Back to School Night.  What did she do to attend? Did she have family who could watch her child while she went?  Did she have the money to pay a sitter? Though I didn't make it that night, how quickly I took for granted the man who at least tried to be here but couldn't because of secure employment.  When God began drawing into last night's events, I realized that my turmoil over having to possibly work around being in two places at once was a turmoil felt by single parents everyday.  I've experienced once or twice what they feel all the time. Moreover, how blessed I am to have the choice of going to either a Bible Study or a pack meeting for my son.  Pretty good life choices to be torn between, huh? Imagine the homeless man whose life choices on a given day consist of whether or not to beg for food or look for it in the dumpster.  Or, what about the mother who must choose between the grey and black tombstone for her deceased child?   The struggling teen who must choose whether or not to abort her baby? The unhappy wife who must choose between counseling and divorce? The son who must choose whether or not to take his almost lifeless parent off of life support?

Sam made it home in time to go.  We cut it close, but they attended Ashton's pack meeting and I made it to my Bible Study with a minute to spare.  However, as I reflect back on things I'm reminded by God of how completely and totally fortunate I am to have my life choices and not those of someone I mentioned above.  How silly of me to become so angry over possibly having to choose Bible Study or a Cub Scout pack meeting. What an absolutely beautiful predicament that would have been.  If you find yourself torn between two choices, don't focus on how inconvenient it is; focus on how blessed you are to have a choice. Look at what your choices are and give thanks because someone out there would love to have yours instead of their own.  Don't look at the inconvenience of having to choose; look at the blessing that God has packed inside of the situation - you have life choices and that's so much more amazing that you might know.

If you have a tough choice to make today, stop and ask God to guide you as you decide.  He will never lead you down a path that isn't ultimately good.  

"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight." - Proverbs 3:6 

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