We know the power of choice from a very young age. I know I have a way better shot at getting my two-year-old out the door in under ten minutes if, instead of saying, “It’s time to get your things on!”, I try, “Are you going to put on your jacket first, or your shoes?” We need that sense of empowerment in our lives. We need to feel like we are participants in our own experience.
Our Christian Bible opens with creation and choice. As soon as the grass has started to grow, the birds are flying, the people have breathed- the next thing that happens, the first actions of humankind, are about making a choice. And the story teaches us that bad choices can be easy to make.
But the story is not over. Our story is not over. And as long as we are alive, no matter how many bad choices we’ve made, we can choose Hope. We can choose Love, we can choose to make Good choices today.
And that is easier said than done.
It can be hard to choose what is life-giving. It can be hard to choose what is sustainable, hard to choose what is right. As we stare into the reality of climate change, and acknowledge the need for policy and lifestyle changes- I will confess I hate low-flow shower heads. They are a Good choice, but for me an uncomfortable one.
As we look around our communities and our nation and see the bitter divides, as the ability for each of us to reinforce our own opinions by choosing to listen only to the likeminded increases, it can be an easy choice to abandon relationships rather than work through conflict.
Many who struggle with addiction or compulsive behavior know that satisfying the urge of their dependence can feel like not at all an easy choice, but a singular one. It can feel as if their power has been stripped away and handed to another.
But. As difficult, or even excruciating, as choosing Life, choosing Love, choosing Right can be, we know we do not make this choice alone. We choose together. We choose with support or in support.
The story of humanity’s first actions in Genesis should not be read as a cautionary tale against making bad choices. Instead, it teaches that mistakes are part of life that God will continue to love us and remain present no matter how dark times become. It teaches that all God wants from us is relationship. When we choose to nurture some aspect of creation, whether it be each other, our self or our world, we choose to nurture our connection with our Creator.
I encourage us each to embrace the power of choice, and in doing so, celebrate the good choices being made with us and around us. There is Hope. There is Love. There is Goodness. We have options.
Mabel Laird earned her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Maine and M.Div from Regent University in Virginia. Between those, she enlisted in the Navy and served for 12 years. While serving, she heard her call to ministry. Her last station was in Virginia Beach, where she met and fell in love with her husband Alex. They were married a little over a year later and have since welcomed her daughter (4) and son (2) (as well as two very patient dogs, both 7). Mabel serves as the pastor of Alfred Parish Church in Alfred, Maine, as well as a chaplain for Spiritual Care Services of Maine and for the Sanford Police Department. She also currently serves as the Vice Moderator for the York Association of the Maine Conference and on the board of the UCC’s Mental Health Network. In her free time, Mabel enjoys happy hours in the woods.