Now that you understand that I'm not perfect......you are ready for why I push everyone to think about what you do and make as "few" mistakes as possible.
For some reason our society doesn't like to discuss possible mistakes. Oh, we love to crucify anyone that does make mistakes. We give those people all the media attention we can. And many times it's not fair.
Mike wrote me about Tammy Faye Messner. He said, "Aside from being a little loony at times, I believe that she was a truly good woman who really tried to live like Christ. From what I could see she was not judgmental and tried to love everyone.
I don't know if you ever saw the series on VH-1 called "the Surreal Life". Anyway she was on the show for one season. One of her housemates was porn star Ron Jeremy. He entered the situation with preconceived notions of how "Christians" acted and preached. Tammy, being Tammy embraced him as a person and loved him. She made it known what she thought of his career choices but stated that it was not up to her to judge but to love him and pray for him. She gained his respect and the respect of ALL of her housemates. Until her death, she and Ron Jeremy remained friends. She didn't see herself as any better than anyone else, she was just a sinner who was saved. What do you think?"
Mike, I think that all of us have made mistakes and need the forgiveness of others. I think many people in the public eye may not be as "bad" as we want to make them. I try never to judge a person by what the "media" says about them. About 20 years ago I watched as the media tried to destroy someone I knew. This person was totally innocent but was crucified none the less.
That brings me full circle to our topic today. Choices and mistakes will change our lives and how we are perceived by others. My son Ken stopped by on Monday and we had a long talk. I am proud of the choices Ken is making. He is trying to be sure that not only is he successful but that he is a man of character. He was reading the book "The Heart of the Artist" by Rory Noland. We marveled at the wisdom of one section.
Rory said that it was important not to confuse Reputation with Character. Reputation is what others think of you. Character is what you really are.
How true is that! And yet, we must be careful. We must allow our "wise" character to help make the choices that will protect and support a good reputation. We need both.
Unfortunately, most parents don't like to "inform" their children how to avoid mistakes. It is very important that we teach them how those mistakes will hurt them. Tammy Faye and a host of other personalities may be good people at heart, but how powerful would their lives have been if they had made other choices?
Mistakes will happen. Bad choices will occur. Feelings will be hurt. Children will suffer. Adults will have regrets. Life is not perfect.
But what we must understand is that EVERY mistake, EVERY bad choice will change our lives. Maybe only a fraction - but it will change our lives. That has nothing to do with forgiveness or compassion.
We can be forgiven for anything, but the consequences of our choice usually does not just disappear.
The parking space we choose at the mall is insignificant. What difference could it possibly make. None! Unless something happens to that car while we are in the mall. When it comes down to it, every choice has a consequence.
DO NOT GO THROUGH LIFE WORRYING ABOUT EVERY DECISION! That will put you in a rubber room. There are thousands of decisions that determine our lives but should not be considered of any importance other than to get us through the day.
We must realize however, that many choices will change the course of our lives. Life for all of us is a series of choices. And like dominoes, one choice can determine the availability of other choices.
When a teen chooses not to wait for marriage and begins sexual promiscuity, they are trading minutes of passion for a lifetime of opportunities. Parents need to make sure their teen understands that it doesn't matter how smart they are or how talented, making the choice for promiscuity can change their life.
An unwanted pregnancy either puts a child in the adoption system or limits the opportunities of college and a good job. If abortion is chosen, the knowledge that a child died because of the their decision can lead to massive guilt complexes that will be a part of their entire life.
It could lead to a long list of diseases.
It WILL hurt your chances of a "good" marriage with suspicion, guilt and the overall inability to feel safe in love. After having so many fleeting sexual encounters 95% say they question and obsess over every one's attentions and question anyone who is sincere.
Our choices determine our lives.
I talked with a man that had a difficult life. He was quiet, reserved and seemed to be in complete control of his emotions and thoughts. As he revealed his story and the pain of his life seemed to overflow with his tears, I saw a completely different man.
He explained that he had a beautiful wife and an expensive home. He had a fantastic job and was on the road to great success. Climbing the ladder is full of pressures and most of time will demand that family take second place. As the pressures mounted at work and his new baby needed more time and medical care, it became too much for him to juggle. While his wife ran for groceries, he was going to work at home. The child was sick and cried - no, screamed without end. In a moment of frustration he shook the baby hoping to get his attention.
With tears streaming down his face and shoulders that bent under the weight of his pain, he whispered. "My child never cried again. I lost my job, my wife, my home and my will to live. One small choice ended everything." I hugged him and when he finally moved away he continued, "I go through the normal motions of a day. I find myself concentrating on the beauty found in the little things. That's how I survive." I smiled and tried to give him comfort.
"I have a secret wish."
"I wish I could personally talk to everyone on the planet. Every parent, every child, every human being on this planet. If I could, I would tell them that the one decision that ended a life of promise didn't happen in that moment. It happened years before. Little decisions that I made put me on that path. Little decisions molded my attitude, my goals and the way I dealt with others. Little decisions changed my view of the world - and I'm sorry to say - it changed a part of my character. That change subtly allowed me to put my work ahead of those I loved. And that ultimately made it easier to take out my frustrations on my baby.
I wish everyone would stop and think, where will this choice take me? What road will it put me on that I won't be able to see where I'm going?"
We prayed and I hope I was able to give him some measure of comfort. But the reality for him and for millions like him is that nothing will bring his family back.
The most important thing you can teach your children is to weigh every decision and think carefully about their lives. No life will ever be what it could be if we fly through on auto pilot. Don't just teach your children good nutrition, how to study for good grades, hygiene and how to be athletic.
For the sake of their futures, teach your children how to think about choices. If I do this....where will it take me? If I choose that.....where will it take me?
Making choices is the most important thing you can teach your children. When you have done that, go to your knees in prayer. Mistakes will happen. You won't be perfect and neither will your children. Ask God to guide you and give you wisdom.
God loves you,