We all have it. We're born with it. And when we learn to use it, trouble very often follows. But not all of our choices are bad. New parents revel in the wonder of watching their progeny begin to make choices. But somewhere along the way, we learn to conform, to suppress our choice. It's a process that is born out of the need for obedience. Unless we can learn to conform to a parent's instruction to keep our fingers away from the hot stove, we get burnt. It is a safety thing. It is for our own good, this coercion. But as we grow, we try to apply it generously to other situations of choice; the result often stunting us, perpetuating our misunderstanding of the true power of choice.
And somewhere along the way, we begin to value coercion over choice...coercion is effective, we surmise. The one who coerces holds all the power. And our tool of choice, then, when confronting others for the wrongs they've committed against us becomes obvious.
Choice still abounds in the small things...do I eat an apple or a bag of chips? Do I turn right or left? What do I watch on TV? But we seem to think that there's a line drawn somewhere that separates our ability to choose and our compulsion to force. I can choose to be kind but I must compel the unkind person to admit their behavior & change. I can choose to live my life a certain kind of way but I must constrain others to do the same as myself. I can choose to forgive but I won't forget and I will remind the wrong-doer of the events in an effort to pressure them (guilt them?) to change.
Why do we take a concept that applies to one aspect of our lives and spread it around everywhere else, thinking it will work just as well here as it did there. It would be like using shampoo to brush your teeth.
Choice is powerful. And far more-so than force. For instance, God chooses us when it comes to His saving Grace but He also gives us a choice. And the two harmonize and blend into each other in ways we are wont to understand this side of Heaven. For our part, when He whispers His truth to our hearts and breaths His message into our souls, He leaves room for us to respond. Much like an endless ringing of the telephone, we hear His message, learn to understand what it means and how to respond but must actually choose to make a connection. He still gives us the choice even when He knows we won't make it. He knows that to choose Him is to really love Him. To choose His way and to follow through with obedience are how we lavish our love on the Father. If He forced us to choose Him, which He right could, the love would not be offered but required...and then would it be love or duty? And an offering is far more meaningful than a requirement.
On the path of my most recent pilgrimage, I have begun to glimpse my need to unlearn this wrong interpretation of choice and force. The trail is a rough one, this learning to identify what is within my power to choose to do; not only what is within my power but what I am obliged to do, what I must do, not for the sake of blind obedience but to be covered in unwavering faith.
My choices must be about forgiveness. My choices must be about remembering no more. We have been told time and again that to forgive AND forget is divine. But my rough road is teaching me that God remembers no more...and the power to do this is truly of God. It is a choice.
There is no winner in forgetting. And the hurts and marks left on our very souls by the harsh, by the sin, by the wrong...there is no forgetting those. We are fools if we try. We do further damage to ourselves when we build a wall of forgetfulness around our hearts.
And if we marinate our inner man in the brine of what has been done against us, we shrivel, become hardened, embittered and controlled by what we have chosen to try and control. That adage about swallowing poison to do harm to our enemies...it is us; we become that. And we envenom ourselves.
Being on these warped routes, they are still our choice. We have lied to ourselves; tried to convince our minds that there was no choice. But if we can break away, there is another way. When we realize that we have our choices all along, that there is choice to forgive, there is choice to remember no more, then a healing salve can be applied to our hearts.
To even begin, we must remember what was given to us.And when we let this permeate us, it begins to change us and out of gratitude for our own forgiveness , our actions can flow accordingly.
It is a daily exercise in choosing to relinquish my own insufficient handling of my experiences. But If I can remember...if my ability to forgive can flow from my own gratitude for what I have been forgiven...then it comes clear.