My printables seem to bring a great deal of traffic to this tiny spot in the blogospere. I've had visitors from all over the world and I love seeing all the different places people pop in from. I also get traffic from different web searches and occasionally one will stick out at me and I'll wonder, "Who is that? What is going on in that person's life to cause them to search for that?" One of those very kinds of searches caught my eye this morning.
Someone searched for, "Why make good choices when you suffer consequences of other people's bad choices?" They were directed to THIS post that I wrote back on Nov. 28, 2011 about choices.
I've been thinking about this all morning. It makes me sad in a way. I know all too well about this very thing. I've had this very same question myself from time to time. There are so many people out there, searching for answers to life's hard questions. Grasping for hope in a world that can be harsh and cruel. My heart goes out to them.
I know all too well what it means to suffer from the choices of others. It never seems fair, does it? Unfortunately, we will all take a turn riding in this boat at one time or another throughout our lives. There really is no way around it. We can't choose what other people do or say, but we can choose how we will react.
And so, I would like to address the question that was posed: "WHY make good choices when you suffer consequences of other people's bad choices?"
Let me offer an example in order to illustrate a response.
I know a friend of a friend. Her name is Jen. She married in her early twenties and had 5 beautiful children over the course of the next twelve years. To all who knew her, she was a hardworking and devoted wife and mother. Everyone saw a happy woman and a happy family. But unbeknownst to many who knew her, she suffered in silence from a heartbreaking sadness. Over the course of her marriage her husband developed an addiction to pornography that grew worse and worse. His view on marital intimacy became corrupt and tainted. He grew lazy in his efforts to provide for his family and Jen had to work more and more outside the home to make ends meet. He lied to her. He became verbally and physically abusive. Her children were witnesses to this. Finally, after two decades of marriage, and several failed attempts at counseling and therapy, Jen told him to leave. It was difficult. A family was broken and hurting. He left and moved out of state and continued to try to manipulate Jen by using the kids as his tools against her. She had 5 kids to raise with no education and no real income. She was lonely and grieving. Her children were grieving and angry. Her life was hard and it wasn't her fault. She was faced with a future that was scary, unknown, and daunting. Her burdens were heavy.
Jen had two choices. She could be brave and strong and move forward with her life or she could take the easy road and fall into the trap of so many women in her position. At this point I hear so many women say, "Don't I deserve to be happy?" "I've endured this awful marriage all these years. I deserve to put me first for a change!" And then they proceed to date every man who comes along and spend time and money they don't have on new clothes, manicures, traveling, etc. They put themselves first. And the kids are placed last. The kids are the ones left to suffer the effects. They lose the father to poor choices and addiction and then they lose a mother who finally has some freedom from a bad relationship who turns selfish and puts herself above what is best for her children. In the end, the children become the real losers in the whole tragedy, paying the highest of all prices.
Jen decided it would be better to be a good example to her children than to take the easy road. She went back to school and got an education. She continued to take her kids to church every Sunday. She didn't drown her sorrows in a glass at the bar, hoping to find a man to come and save her. She didn't go into debt buying things she couldn't afford. She held onto her values and standards and kept moving forward, one day and one step at a time. She got herself and her children into counseling to help them through the grief and pain caused by years of abuse and a terrible divorce. It has been eight years now. She has healed. Her children have healed - the kind of healing only time, love, and patience can accomplish. She knows who she is now and her children have a mother who loves them and has shown them they can do hard things. She put her children's needs for healing above her desire to be married again. She gave them time and she gave herself time.
Jen was married a little over a year ago to a kind and good man. The kind of man she deserves. A man who loves her and loves her children. Her choice to make good choices has earned her the dividend she always hoped to have. She couldn't have foreseen these events a decade ago or even three years ago. She could have done what other women do who come out the end of a long marriage full of manipulation and abuse. She could have put her happiness first above her children's, but she didn't. She did the right thing and her reward is greater than she could have ever imagined.
It's not easy to make good choices when it seems like everyone around you is living it up making poor ones. But just as poor choices reap negative consequences, good choices will inevitably reap positive ones. They aren't always apparent at the time the choice is made, but it will be manifest eventually.
The one thing I can guarantee is that everything changes. If you are in a position where you are suffering as a result of the poor choices of someone else, hang on. Time does pass and things will change. Find courage within yourself and if you are in the position, take a step in the direction towards enacting that change if necessary. It may mean distancing yourself from the person whose choices are hurting you. It may mean doing hard things. If that is you, I hope you find the peace and help you seek. Dig deep within and be courageous and choose good! I've never known anyone who EVER regretted making a good choice, but I know plenty of people who regret making bad ones - myself included.