You have choices. Make good ones.
By Leslie Vernick
We are all facing uncertain and scary days ahead. The world as we know it is changing. And perhaps for too long you believed that your family's world would stop turning if you didn't keep a thousand balls in the air at the same time.
You feel like it's all on your shoulders. Keep your kids safe and healthy. Keep yourself healthy. Do what you can to help others.
You so do much. But when you have all of what's happening today smack dab in the middle of a destructive marriage, juggling all those balls doesn’t seem very fair. It feels like too much. It's not fair. It's easy to slide into "why me" mentality.
Maybe your husband is extremely passive. Maybe he’s left. And you’re forced to bring in a paycheck, take care of the house and kids, keep the checkbook balanced and the bills paid. And now this virus!!!!
It’s pretty easy to start feeling resentful. That all of your choices have been taken away and this life you’re living has somehow been "forced" on you.
The truth is...you don’t get to choose your husband’s behavior. But you do get to choose yours. See, you don’t HAVE to take care of your kids. Plenty of people give them up to social services. You don’t HAVE to pay your bills. Many people don’t. You don’t even have to work. You can go on government assistance.
What you need to see is that, despite your husband’s hurtful decisions, you ARE making good choices in your own life...even though they may be hard choices. Don’t allow yourself to miss the blessing of knowing that. You don’t have to feel like a resentful martyr or a helpless victim. Be proud of the good choices you’re making.
Sometimes making any choice seems too hard. So you don’t. But remember this: to do nothing is still a choice. You may not have a choice on what happens to you on the outside. But you have choices about what happens to you inside. You can grow bitter or you can grow stronger. When you continually tell yourself you don’t have a choice in what you’re doing or how you’re feeling, you’ve actually made a choice to be passive. To be a victim.
So, in the confusion of difficult feelings and circumstances, where do good decisions come from?
Take a moment, grab a piece of paper and a pen and do this exercise:
- Draw a big circle. Inside that circle, describe the person you are or the person you want to be. For example, you might want to be a godly woman or a good mother. What are the attributes of a godly woman and a good mother? Patient, prayerful, wise, slow to anger, etc.
- Next to the Big Circle of your identity, draw two smaller circles. Label one “thoughts” and the other “feelings.” Think about the thoughts you’ve been having lately. Write some of them down. They may be true or not true. Thoughts are like that. Sometimes they’re downright crazy. Then, think about your feelings. Write a few down. They may be really strong feelings like giving up. Like dying. Like starting a relationship with another man. Whatever they are, write them down.
Now, every time you’re faced with making a decision - big or small - I want you to have a mental image of this piece of paper. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings, whether they are good or bad. But make decisions based on your “Big Circle.” If you make decisions based on thoughts and/or feelings, you’re almost guaranteed to experience regret. Because the decision will be going against the person you want to be.
For example, having an extramarital affair, regularly overeating, raging at others. These are things that happen when a person is making choices based on their thoughts and feelings instead of their “Big Circle,” the person they are or want to be.
This week, consciously practice making decisions out of your Big Circle. Ask yourself, when you’re making a choice… where is it coming from? When you’re responding to your kids, is it out of your feelings and thoughts or is it out of your identity, your Big Circle… the “I want to be a good parent” part of you? When you’re responding to your husband, is it out of your thoughts and feelings or is it out of the, “I want to be wise,” part of your big circle?
When you’re aware, it helps you to make good choices.