It is very easy for us to make poor decisions when we are emotionally flared-up or we have caved in too deeply to our passions and feelings. I think most of us would agree that if we controlled our emotions, thought through our decisions more carefully, and practice some discipline we would make better choices. When passions run high there really are some ways we can keep ourselves on the right track. I would like to share some of them with you.
When something is very appealing and tantalizing we should remember there is nothing worth damaging our relationship with God, no matter what or who it is. Some destructive pathways that we are presented with in life are so hypnotic and mesmerizing even to the most thoughtful and grounded person. This is when we must seriously consider if following this path strengthens or weakens our relationship with God. The right decision for us lies with a yes or no answer to this outcome.
Second, every thing out there in life will appeal to our higher or lower nature. The church fathers frequently wrote about the higher and lower self. The lower self is tempted to cruise the backstreets of pride and arrogance, envy and dissatisfaction, inordinate and misplaced sensuality, greed and dishonesty, fear and mistrust, and the like. The higher self travels the boulevards of faith and trust, love and forgiveness, humility and emotional capitulation, giving and sacrifice, discipline and constraint and other like affections. The right roadway for us lies in identifying and choosing to go higher or lower in life. God and all that He want us to be always reaches out to the higher self.
Thirdly, assessing if our decisions will help or hurt others will go along way in making good choices. We live in community. We are all moving down the same expressway in life. Our decisions will have an impact on those who are on this road with us; our spouse, family, friends, colleagues and community. The right decision when it comes to helping or hurting others mostly depends on a yes or no answer, not a maybe it’s okay or they will get over it in time. Making choices for the good of others as well as ourselves is the best pathway to take, even if it it sets us back momentarily.
This writing should not be without the acknowledgment that sometimes life is confusing. Sometimes we make big mistakes. I have certainly made some heavy-duty mistakes and I am very sorry for them. The lines between good and bad choices are not as clear as we would like them to be. Far to often, bad appears to be good and good appears to be bad. We live in a peculiar time where so much is offered to so many, for so little. It’s easy to be sold on the idea of doing less and expecting more. We make mistakes, we hurt others and we sabotage ourselves far to often. We must ask God to forgive us, we must forgive others, and we need to work at forgiving ourselves!
Joseph C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills, Michigan, 2020
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