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Choice and Consequence

My Dad used to say, “Make a decision, even if it’s wrong.”  It took me a long time to understand what he was trying to tell me.  As a kid, I was pretty indecisive, and Dad needed me to learn to make choices, knowing that I was going to make mistakes in the process.  My parents taught me to be honest and trustworthy.  They taught me a good work ethic.  They trusted that I would try to make good choices, but they also knew that we all make mistakes.

I grew up understanding that every choice made has a consequence.  The concept of suffering bad consequences for bad choices did not escape me, but I mistakenly assumed there would always be good consequences for good choices.  It took me many years to realize that sometimes I can make a good choice, but the freedom of choice of those around me can also affect my consequences.

Prayer has always been a source of strength for me.  I learned to pray as soon as I learned to speak, so prayer is as comfortable to me as breathing.  I have not always made wise decisions, but looking back at my life, the good decisions were always made after answers to prayers.  Long before I grasped the idea of the Spirit, I felt Him at work in my life.  There is no doubt in my mind when my path is being guided from beyond this earthly existence.

It came as a great shock to me when I made a decision after fervent prayer, knowing my hands were being guided, to endure consequences that were not positive.  The choices of others as they reacted to my decision tipped my world upside down.  After a period of self-doubt, I realized that it is important not to look back.  Once given confirmation by the Spirit, there is no turning back without denying His very existence.  I learned for the first time that just because I pray, listen, ponder, follow, and choose, doesn’t mean that others will understand my choices, or make wise choices of their own.

Twice in the last week out of the blue, friends have quoted Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”  Since I haven’t read the poem in years, I don’t think it was a coincidence.  I think I’m supposed to pay attention.  “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  I took the road less traveled.  The consequences were immediately negative, harsh, and unfathomably uncomfortable.  There was self-doubt, and even mourning.  Then came the peace—a peace sweeter than I have ever known—and that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

—Robert Frost

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