Help. Hope. Healing.

Moments of Decision

Choosing the Right

By Rex Goode

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I have recently begun to turn my passion for film into a blog of reviews about the movies I see. I have often wanted to reach into the screen and prevent a character from doing something stupid. You just know they’re going to do it and you can’t fathom what is in their heads when they do it.

Whether going into a dark room where you, the viewer, know that a terror awaits them, or saying “yes” to a con man, people in movies do really stupid things. The funniest part for me is that even when I’ve seen a film with such moments of decision, I still think that by yelling at the character on the screen, I can change the course of the plot.

“Don’t open that door, you idiot!”

My profession is as a behavior consultant. I study the behavior of developmentally disabled adults who have difficult behavior problems that are affecting the quality of their lives. I observe the steps that lead them to making poor decisions which very often result in them committing acts of violence against their caregivers and family. I interview people around them to get a sense of how to do an early detection of the behavior before it happens.

Recognizing such patterns before they result in someone getting hurt is the best way to deal with behavior. Once I understand how to anticipate or recognize that something bad is going to happen if something doesn’t change, I can teach family members and caregivers how to change the focus and prevent the behavior.

It is fairly obvious to me that one decision leads to another, but I find that people, in general, don’t think about that when they do things. In fact, people wind up in patterns of behavior that fit the legendary definition of insanity, namely, doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results.

I suppose I do that too, but I work to try to make decisions that are thought out and will lead to a higher quality of choices to follow. To me, that’s the whole key to making good decisions. You have to look ahead, not just to the results of the decision at hand, but to what limits the decision will put on future choices.

When it comes to such skills, I am severely deficient when it comes to playing games. You just can’t be good at chess without looking ahead as many moves as possible. 90% of the times I’ve played chess, I’ve lost my queen early in the game because I don’t look at what will happen to her if I make certain moves. Just about anyone can beat me.

I bet I am that way with real life too, but one thing has helped me do a better job of life than in games. That one thing is trusting in the wisdom of God to spell out for me which choices I should make in certain situations. This we know as commandments. Owing to my propensity for being impulsive, it is eternally helpful to me to have a few things set in stone.

I know that some people would say that you can’t always think in black and white, like chess pieces. I don’t disagree. I even think there are moments when the choices aren’t so easy to make, when even the commandments aren’t entirely clear. For such times, I’ve had to rely on the power of making mistakes.

There’s nothing like doing something really stupid to make it clear what kinds of things can lead to greater trouble. God has provided for that too. We call it repentance. I’ve had to do that a few times in my life and imagine that I always will. Repentance means to change, and I have plenty of areas in my life that could stand a change.

In order for any of this to work, we have to be willing to learn. I find that the most change-resistant personality is the one who operates in his world with inflexibility. I don’t think that the quote about insanity is accurate. I think it is more accurate to say that the definition of stubbornness is always doing the same thing the same way and expecting God to alter the universe to accommodate what you insist on repeating.

Hand in hand with inflexibility is an inclination to complain that the universe should be as you want it and not as it is. Judging life as unfair is all the rationalization some people need to carry on their repetition of bad choices and the inevitable consequences that follow. In fact, the predictability of the consequences only reinforces the opinion that the cosmos doesn’t work right and life is, therefore, unfair.

I will admit that much of life is not fair. Sometimes, no matter how aptly you navigate the choices laid before you, something bad is going to happen. Worse yet, the good you expect may not come.

So, perhaps, all of this talk about making good decisions is meaningless. Not only can you not fight city hall, you can’t fight the palace of God. The only perfect man who ever lived met with an excruciating and undeserved end.

Perhaps we shouldn’t even worry about deciding to choose the right. Sometimes, the wrong seems like it will be much more enjoyable. Without faith in something beyond this mortal existence, perhaps that is true. If this is all there is, might as well have fun while it lasts, and why not live with dangerous excitement?

My testimony is that this life is not all there is. That perfect One who endured a life of toil, persecution, and an ignoble death did not come to his end. Because of his obedience, he was able to overcome death itself, not only for himself, but for every one of us.

With that hope and faith, I not only want to live in such a way as to find happiness in the next life, but also to experience the joy that is readily available in this life. That joy comes through following a course of good decisions that are, by their very nature, designed to make us happy in the here and now.

Whenever those unfair calamities befall, that joy, gathered through a devotion to making good personal choices, can weather even the worst. I have known that peace of soul in spite of many adversities. Inasmuch as adversity is as inevitable as life itself, I would much rather endure them with a clear conscience and a hope in eternal life. I have both through making consistent efforts to choose the things that bring joy that I can lay up in store for whatever may come.

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