Have you ever stopped to think about how many decisions most of us make in one day? We begin making them as soon as we begin to realize that we are awake once again. Will I open my eyes or just lay here with them closed and try to sleep longer? Will I get up? Will I read the paper or watch television or do both or maybe I will do neither and talk to my spouse while I have coffee? The decisions are endless. Some of them are minor and have little effect on our day. Whether or not we read the paper while having coffee usually does not impact our day, unless we read the obituaries and find our name in there. Then, we may have to do some serious thinking about that find.
Decisions are something we live with day to day and we should be pretty good at making them by the time we reach adulthood. Some people, however, did not receive or develop the necessary skills in order to make good decisions. For some reason, they were not sufficiently prepared so as to make good decisions and so they became stalled at some level of development and do not fit into society easily. Consider the shooter who was responsible for killing a dozen or so people and seriously wounding the Congresswoman from Arizona last year. When it was discovered who he was that had done it, a picture of a young man who was unprepared for life and most likely a bit off balanced developed. For some reason, he became fixated on issues that drove him to violence. The decisions he made had severe consequences for himself and those whom he hurt.
People make decisions early in life that will chart the direction their lives will take. Some decide that education beyond high school is not important or some even drop out of high school thinking that it is not worth the effort. That decision places them in a class or category where they will not qualify for jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. Education is often the key to success in life and not having the desire or drive to receive a quality education may result in a lifestyle that one wishes one could change but it does not happen easily.
Decisions are very important to our lives. What we eat, how much we exercise, what we do with our free time...all of these and more impact what our lives may be like in the future. It is never too late to make better decisions or to turn our lives around. That is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. When we begin Lent in another four weeks, those who choose to receive the ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday may hear the words, "Repent, and believe the Gospel." Those two phrases guide our thoughts during Lent even as they should for our entire lives. Repent means to turn around, to do things differently. Each time we decide to eat healthy instead of eating junk food we have repented of our old habits. Each time we decide to take a walk instead of sitting and watching television we are repenting of our old ways and turning to new ways. Believing the Gospel simply means to believe the Good News (what the word "Gospel" literally means) that Jesus Christ can bring new life even in the midst of old or destructive ways. Believing that Jesus is the Life does not mean belief in something in the Great Beyond....it means that we can have a new life today. We can start over regardless of how long we have been stuck in our ways.
Making Good Decisions is a daily process that begins each day when we open our eyes and begin to enter conciousness again. That process continues as long as we live. That is what it means to be truly human and that is what God intended for our lives and our living.