Ah, choices. Nothing is more apparent at this hyper intensified moment of electoral madness, amplified by hundreds of candidates, thousands of ads, and millions of opinions, than the ability we have at this time to choose. (To “Change” would be a very close second). Having missed the early voting period, I’m contemplating an early rise to be at the poll early in the morning. However, by the time most of you read this, decisions would have been made, votes cast, and then…
Choice made? Our paths set, and made clear? The defining moment for either race or gender having been made, all other choices now simply a by-product of our collective (or divisive) will?
No, and we all know it. We daily face very different choices than who will be the leader of the executive branch of our federal government. And I will maintain til my dying breath the nonsense of believing that the choice of one leader affects so deeply the choices I have before me. The choices I make as an individual for my life are the single defining factor of my destiny.
I’m going to say that again, and embolden it for my own pleasure and emphasis. If you don’t want to read it again, skip down a line or two.
The choices I make as an individual for my life are the single defining factor of my destiny.
Allow me to enumerate for a moment, then, through the prism of my walk today, what choices really matter.
- Do I wake up and allow problems to fill my head, or do I push them aside and pray a prayer of gratitude?
- Do I give my wife a perfunctory “good morning”, or slow down to greet her with a kiss and a nuzzle?
- Do I spend the day worrying about work, or will I really be present with the kids?
- Should I perform my job for gain and recognition, or for servanthood, quality and a desire to set an example for others?
- When I have the chance to connect with someone emotionally, will I?
- Will I take the time to know myself, or will I ignore my inner being, trying to be a human ‘doing’?
- Will I react to disappointment with anger, fear, or resolve?
- Will I be content with who I am, or with who God wants me to be?
- Will I hide my true self, or will I be secure in my own feelings with others?
- Will I be loving when the situation would allow me to act otherwise?
- Will my principles stand when my power to act does not?
- Will I act in a way that helps the person I am today be a benefit to the person I will be tomorrow?
- Will I do the things that will be recognized, or do the things that will be remembered?
The choice, truly, then, is not in a ballot box. Is not in a poll. The choice is in every human heart, and it digs deeper than any politician can reach, than any party can claim to understand. For government can not take the place of the true betterment of the self, no matter how high the rhetoric or stirring the moment. It occurs with the choice of the moment, of what Lincoln termed the “better angels of our nature”. Joshua understood how fickle we are. You see, his people claimed they were ready to change, too. Pledged their allegiance. Made great gestures. But I’ve found that my people, yes, my African American brothers and sisters, are great at following great causes, but have missed the little chances and changes that define us so much more than the ability to mobilize great numbers. You cannot inspire from outside what is not present already from the inside. It wears away like the topsoil of the mountain, and the beautiful foilage of pretty motives and words is washed away like so much dust from a coffee table. And the only thing that creates the bedrock of meaning and purpose is the day to day grinding of the wheel of decision, or dying to self and the simple choices we make to be better today than we were yesterday, to allow the Spirit (the only true change agent), to make renovation and demolition in our hearts. Without such, choice is a ephermeal illusion, masquerading as determination but revealing itself as the wishful thinking of a soul not willing to face it’s own inability to effect change. To choose one option over another means total understanding of the choice, and if we know not what we really want to become, we really have no choice in the first place. Only God knows the final results He desires, and without His mirror, we morph, but are not made.
I have looked at lots of issues, heard lots of arguments. My own children have participated in the political process by canvasing for Obama, and I’ve enjoyed challenging them to understand the choices they’ve made. But the deepest choice, other than salvation, is whether they will choose to be defined by others, or to be defined from within. My job has been to give them every tool available – knowledge, morals, understanding, wisdom, principle – so that they will have the choice to make the choice. We all have that, whether or not we are in front of a Opti-scan machine.
I pray we make the right ones.
Looking unto the hills,