Our lives are made up of many things, and decisions are made almost without thinking a lot of the time. What to eat, what to wear, where to go next. Some decisions though, require a bit more thought, and are affected by what came before. Like?
In my case, I grew up very insecure. My family life felt like I was on a game show, trying to figure out what was behind door #2. If you have ever seen a show like “let’s make a deal” or similar, you are trying to figure out how to best proceed with limited information. Mostly, it’s a best-guess situation, based on past-experience. On a game show, this is fun and the crowd cheers you on. The worst that can happen is you end up with a good story and empty pockets. In real life, however, the consequences are somewhat more serious and possibly far-reaching.
About 37 years ago, I was faced with a serious decision. Surrounding me were family that had decided what the best course of action should be in light of my current status or dilemma as you might say. I found myself pregnant and unwed after my first quarter of college with a boyfriend I barely knew. He was willing to “do the right thing” and I was urged by everyone to do likewise.
An interesting side-note here, my mother got married much the same way, and my grandmother was also pregnant with my mother out of wedlock, however the tale is that natural grandfather died in WWII before the marriage could take place, so I am the 3rd generation on this path…
My journey in landing at this point was brought about by some poor decision making on my part, to be sure. My 1st quarter of college away from home resembled anything but an academic pursuit, and I was often found at parties and other guys dorm rooms, still looking for love. But I also had seen some red flags in proceeding any further toward an early marriage with this person.
My options were few though. Have an abortion. I ruled this out, as I had been down this road before, and refused to repeat it. Have the baby on my own and give it up. No, I felt like the shame would kill me. Actually, it probably wouldn’t have, but I had no one to talk to me about this. Have the baby and raise it on my own. Nope, the family told me they would basically cut me off, how would I survive?
Sadly, I allowed fear of others’ opinions to override the spirit’s voice and good judgement given me and closed off my own voice at the very moment that I agreed to their plan, which turned out later to have disastrous consequences (see blog post Arms length).
Recovery teaches us that any decisions or actions that we take that are based in fear are likely to turn out poorly. Why? Because fear is a powerful emotion. And our emotions are FAMOUS for lying to us. Feelings and emotions are important, but they are not to be our sole indicator of how to proceed. The steps and principles have placed in me the need to seek wise counsel, to pray and meditate and to pause before making any large decision. If I am willing to allow the doors to stay open to the spirit to speak – in my heart and through others in recovery that I trust, I will hear balance and truth – every time. But if I run off on my own, clutching a handbag of swirling passions and act on them, I can almost be assured of hurts to follow.
Over 3 decades later, I am nearly done with the amends of those decisions made in a cesspool of fear and willfulness. I have forgiven myself for my lack of confidence to stand up to others, because at that time I had an empty tool box and not a strong recovery friend in sight to support me. I did the best I could with what I had. I can be grateful for the full toolbox I have now, and the lovely friends in recovery that love me even when I can behave insufferably…and they call me on it!
Whether it was yesterday or years ago, the steps and principles are there to help each one of us move through and heal and build our tool box for today and for the next decision or action. Thank you Lord God for the opportunities to start fresh every day and that your grace abounds.