Updated: Oct 4, 2019
I have learned to appreciate the true value of choices. Knowing that you have a choice is not enough though. It is when you take a stand and decide to make your own choices that you gain control of your life. Sometimes choices are made for us especially when we are young or ignorant, but when we mature enough we have to make our own choices and be responsible for the consequences of our choices and not other people’s choices.
Tata Nelson Mandela says this about his choice:
"I waited for over 70 years to cast my vote. I chose to do it near the grave of John Dube" - Nelson Mandela
Sometimes it is after you have waited for so long for things to change that you realize that it is really up to you to decide how you are going to react to the situation. Mandela doesn’t explain that of those 70 years, 27 of them were spent waiting in prison, with a different identity as prisoner no 46664. He doesn’t have to because we know. One of the many choices that he made was to forgive; he chose to leave behind bitterness and hatred. He says:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela
We all have choices!
Allow me to share a personal story with you.
On the day that my mother passed on, my sisters and I were all gathered around her in her room. Things developed so quickly from what initially seemed like a stomach bug. By midday things were totally different, her countenance had changed, she began to lift up her fragile hands and worshiped. We joined in with tears running down our inexperienced cheeks unaware of what was unfolding before our eyes. This was the moment where the words of the hymn “My Jesus I love Thee” written by young William Ralph Featherston in 1864 came true,
I'll love Thee in life and I will love Thee in death
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus 'tis now
When my mother said "Nthabiseng, bring your car I want to get out of the house", there was this uneasiness among us that we really couldn’t explain. Maybe we didn’t want to acknowledge what we were really thinking or what we could sense. We carried her into the car and I drove about 10km then she was gone. She literally left without saying, "bye girls". She made a choice even in her last moments, she decided "I choose how I will go and where. I choose the company of all my 5 girls in my last hour". She chose her preferred driver, her preferred car, and her preferred company and in whose arms she preferred to take her last breath.
From this experience I learned, among other things, the true meaning of choices.
Here's how Leah did it, in Genesis 29:31-35 - her husband didn't love her. She felt hated actually. The thing is, Jacob was tricked by his uncle, who was Leah’s father, into marrying her, so he really did not love her at all. Leah was therefore longing for his love and acceptance and to really be devoted to her.
So she gave birth to a son and named him Reuben, which means ‘behold a son’, hoping he'll see that she is capable of giving him a son. Next was Simeon, meaning ‘listening’, she thought maybe God has heard her cry and things would change. Third was Levi, as she was hoping that her husband would now be committed to her but that did not happen. It was when she gave birth to her 4th child that she made a choice to stop trying, wishing, hoping and waiting. She named her son Judah saying "now I will praise the Lord”. And she stopped bearing children. Though it was God who had opened her womb when He saw that she was hated, she made a choice to stop bearing children.
She didn’t file for divorce but she decided to stop doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
If, like Leah, you have not been getting your desired outcomes, it is time to change your tactics. If you keep attracting the same type of boyfriend/girlfriend, Sam, Paul, Tom, one has a job, another has a house, the next you meet has nothing, but their behaviour and the way they treat you is the same, you need a new strategy. If screaming or arguing hasn’t worked yet between you and your spouse, you need a new strategy. If you keep working at jobs where you find a mean boss, this time it’s Paul, at the next company it’s Sarah, you need a strategy that will work for you. If shouting and “time out” hasn’t proved to work on your kids, you need to change tactics. Choose another angle that will work.
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Make your choice!