“I didn’t mean for this to happen! It just happened. I am so sorry,” or “I don’t know how this happened… it was totally out of my control.” Ever heard one of those before? Or perhaps you have been the one to say it. In my freshman year of high school, I had this "best" friend who said that to me almost once a week. I remember really liking a boy that my friend also liked. I began dating him but it wasn’t long before she said it to me… “I didn’t mean for this to happen… but it just happened. It was out of my control.” I was crushed. But if I am going to be honest, I’ve been the one to utter a similar phrase as well, many times. Here’s the crazy thing – when I was the one saying it, it seemed so true. But when I was the one hearing it, it sounded like the biggest bunch of bull-caca ever articulated.
It has taken me years to fully understand that for the most part the phrase, “I didn’t mean for it to happen, it just happened” is in fact a bunch of crap. Nearly everything we do in life happens as a result of multiple tiny decisions. Some times the decisions are so small that we don’t even see them as decisions at all. Take for example an affair, you don’t just wake up one morning and BAM! find yourself in an affair you weren’t in the day before. It’s a series of small decisions that lead you there. First it’s to talk to someone. Then it’s the decision to continue talking to them knowing you are attracted to them. Then it’s to think about the person in a way you know you shouldn’t think about them. Then it’s to continue both, talking and thinking, even though you know better. Next it’s to rationalize “we’re just going to coffee as friends, what could happen?” Then the decision to keep a secret… then another. Phone calls, texts, perhaps a secret meeting in a closet or hotel room… before you know it, “I didn’t mean for this to happen, it just happened! I am so sorry!” comes rushing out of your mouth. LIAR!!!! The truth is you had choices and you chose badly. I’m not saying it’s easy to reject these things, I’m just saying that we need to call a spade a spade and say… bad choices…. period. Of course this isn’t true for everything, some things in life do just happen… but an awful lot of them don’t. It takes intentional thought way in advance to prevent these things from cropping up in our lives. We really have to be on our toes since the devil loves to keep us blinded to all our minuscule decisions. But an affair always begins with an innocent, “Hello.” A decision doesn’t get smaller than that.
I was discussing this very thing with a friend and she said something I really loved… she told me that just like small decisions lead us to make big mistakes… small decisions are also what lead us to wonderful victories. I had never ever thought of it that way before. I remember back when I was beginning to repair my life after coming to terms with my alcoholism. I wanted to change… overnight! I wanted people to see me differently just because I had made the big decision to be sober. Well, it didn’t work that way and there were times I got really bummed out. I couldn’t understand why some people just saw me as a screw up no matter what I did. I really thought I could do one really awesome thing and all of a sudden become an awesome person. I’m sure that works for some people in ways, they can be seen as an awesome person for a few hours by doing something big, but the question is, is it real??? I think the best way to awesomeness is to make a bunch of really awesome small decisions over time. The choice to smile… the choice to be kind… the choice to help the old lady at the grocery store… the choice to listen to a friend even though you don’t have time… the choice to pick up a piece of trash… the choice to give your extra dollar away instead of buying a pack of gum… the choice to give your sandwich to a homeless man at the park and stay hungry for a few more hours… the choice to not yell at the annoying dog… the choice of patience when you have none left… the choice to commit 5 minutes to God instead of doing the dishes. Eventually these small choices will become who you are and lets be honest… what could be more awesome than being that person? Now that is the person I really want to be and I am happy to say, with the knowledge that it’s the small decisions that really matter… I realize I have begun to truly transform. I don’t need to give a million dollars to a university… I just want to be nice.
So, I'm not gonna lie to my friends, family and acquaintances anymore. I'm not gonna lie to myself by saying “I didn’t mean for this to happen… it just happened” or “I don’t know how this happened… it was totally out of my control.” I'm facing the truth, I'm going to be aware of my small decisions… and I'm going to choose to be awesome.