Lately, I find myself in deep conversation with my daughter about choices and decision making, a conversation I know is far from over.
Most of the time when my daughter and I have these discussions I walk away feeling as though I learned more than she did (Parenting 101 - they should have included that chapter!) One night, we spoke about four interrelated topics: gratitude, initiative, pride, and decisions.
I have to tell you, this discussion was a game changer for both of us.
Gratitude: Appreciating what has been given.
Our evening prayer normally includes a "thank you", on this night I said the thanks for a home, a warm bed, and food at every meal. My daughter asked why I would say thank you for those things. I said because many children (people) don't have those things. She was quite upset by that and said, "Well I don't like that - I will make sure every kid has a warm bed."
Initiative: Seeing what needs to be done and doing it.
"In time, you can do some great things if you are really wanting to help others all over the world. What could you do today?" She thought for a while and said, "My school has a food drive! Can we buy some canned food?" I told her to make a list and I would include it on my next shopping trip.
Many things keep us from doing what needs to be done, or what we want to do. This is absolutely something a 7 year old understands well. Having courage and then making decisions in spite of distraction and resistance is difficult even for an adult, hence the learning for me. Our conversation continued...
Pride: Confidence in knowing you are part of something greater than yourself.
Being proud of yourself is something you have in here, pointing to her heart. It causes you to do the right thing even when it's very hard. "What things are you proud of?" "I can make my bed and I really like to write stories," was her confident response. Just for fun I added, "So, because you are proud of making your bed, I don't have to ask you to do it since you like doing it so much, right?" (I do believe I saw a light bulb turn on in the midst of her dark room.)
Decisions: Choices we make which direct our action.
When you are proud of the way you do something, you want to do more for others, and you know what needs to be done, but something comes along to keep you from it, whether it's your little brother or a toy you like to play with, you are left with a decision to make. Making WISE choices to keep doing what we know needs to be done over and over again puts us on a path closer to the one which will allow us to do what we really want to do...Freedom!
As leaders, teachers, parents, as people making decisions every moment of the day, some big and some less significant we must not miss the connection between our ability to make wise choices and our capacity for making an impact in the world. What choices are you making today? Are they leading you to your dream, a better way of being, more freedom? OR are you the victim of your own making? If at any time you find yourself far off the path to freedom, ask yourself:
Am I Thankful, do I appreciate what I do have?
Do I have the initiative to take action?
Am I proud of who I am (What are you uniquely designed to do?)
Am I making wise choices?