When the Choice is Hard
I had a choice to make that morning.
I was tired, grouchy and grumpy. I had been up most of the night with one of my three children on a rotating schedule. I had the usually feedings with Jack, Amelia woke from sleep crying so I had to calm her down, then Silas woke up and wanted to get into bed with us.
In my sleep deprived state as I was trying to coax him back into his bed, he managed to settle in the middle of our bed. So for the next several hours I slept, literally, on the side of the bed holding on for dear life to the remaining sliver of space my son left for me. Plus his feet, knees and elbows consistently ended up on me. And for a four year old, he is also quite the snorer!
Through my tossing and turning trying to get comfortable on the single square foot of mattress space my son left for me, my husband rolled over and whispered I should just put him back in his bed, before drifting off to sleep again. If I could lift him I would but he weighs a hearty 50+ pounds and that’s not easy to pick up from the center of the bed. I thought about just going and getting into his bed but I knew I didn’t want to be that far away from the baby in case he woke up and needed to eat.
Finally my husband got up and carried my son back to his bed and as I was stretching out trying to re-acclimate to my sleeping spot, Jack began to stir.
I asked out of sleepy frustration. I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed to nurse Jack. By the time he was done eating it was time for me to get up and take a shower if I wanted to get one in before my husband left for work. Gone was my window of sleep and gone was my refreshed state of mind.
I was frustrated at my husband and kids. How dare they interrupt my sleep?
I was frustrated at God. If only He would make my family sleep so I could get a good night’s sleep then I would have ample energy to wake up early in the morning to spend time with Him.
I was in the midst of throwing a full blown pity party for myself. It would have been so easy to let negative thoughts fill my mind, to stew on how entitled I felt and how my needs weren’t being met.
But I made a different choice, a harder choice.
I chose joy instead of bitterness.
I chose to change my mindset, to think on the good things not the things I felt entitled too.
I chose to speak out of love to my husband before he left for work instead of spouting out a sarcastic comment about sleeping well.
I chose to pray over my day and for a new mindset.
Sure it would have been easier, and sometimes even more fun, to dwell on the circumstances I couldn’t change. I could have stayed in my place of self entitlement and bitterness. I could have continued to ruin my day by being short and impatient with my children. I could have been mad at my husband and used my words or the silent treatment to punish him.
Instead I chose guard my heart and mind and let the peace of God fill my cup.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~Philippians 4:7-9
I stopped right in the middle of my pity party and prayed for God to help renew my mind. I prayed for my day, my interactions with my family members, ways to show love and to be patient. I prayed through thoughts of thanksgiving, thanking God for my many blessings.
Through the act of praying, my thoughts of bitterness, entitlement, and self pity all faded away into the distance. A new sense of peace filled me. A new wave of confidence to tackle my day with energy filled me.
Instead of focusing on all the ways my day could have been ruined, I made the choice to redeem my day before it even began.
To be completely honest, I don’t always do this. I’m not good at making the right choice. My natural sin nature takes over and I’m impatient, short and grumpy with my husband and kids. It’s easier to stay mad then to stop and pray to change my way of thinking.
Someday the hard choice is not only limited to my reactions to lack of sleep but in other moments too. I could make the choice to be discontent in whatever circumstance I am faced with. But instead I want to be like Paul, choosing to content and at peace with whatever God throws my way.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:11-13
This past Easter Sunday, I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook and kept coming upon picture after picture of happy, smiling families who were all capable of getting their little ones to smile and look good for a family photo. Our family photo looked anything but…
During our little photo session after church, I found myself getting impatient. Can’t my kids hold still for one measly second to get a good shot?
But after a little perspective, and a little time in prayer, I was left laughing over our hilarious photo that accurately depicted our daily life, chaos and all.
Life is not perfect. We all have hard choices to face on a daily basis, some big and others not so much. But our response to our hard choices can effect the whole outcome.
Instead of letting ourselves get caught up in the little, not-so-important, aspects of our lives, we can make the choice to think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.
Making the hard choice is not easy but it can have a lasting impact on our day, life and family. So when the choice is hard… choose joy instead. Trust me, it’s worth it.
How have you made the hard choice?
What a lovely and heartfelt post. I have been where you are and I feel your frustration, but admire how you handled it. I am in another season of life, but this was a good post to remind me that I can still make the hard choices. I need to let go of daily frustrations and find daily contentment . Thank you.
This is my life!! I need to be better about choosing happiness even when I’m so tired I can’t see straight. Thanks for the reminder.
I love that you used a simpler example to illustrate a concept that becomes even more important when it comes to the larger things in life.
We are facing a major, life-changing event at the moment and we are making the choice, moment by moment, to choose joy, contentment, peace, faith, and trust. We are far from perfect in this area, of course, but we realize that we do have a choice about how we view our current circumstances. Making the hard choice in the little things makes it so much easier to face the big storms of life.
Isn’t it incredible how our hearts change when we trust them to the Lord? What an amazing God we serve!
Thank you for this timely encouragement, Victoria. It has blessed me today.
My husband and I were just recently talking about perspective. So often when I get frazzled or stressed, I just need a new perspective. Too often it’s my own internalizing that stresses me out. I always struggle with how to get a new perspective, but you pretty much nailed it with “think about these things …” and “choose joy.” Simple enough although hard in the moment BUT life-changing.
Such a good post, Victoria! We always have a choice. And often the right choice is a hard choice to make but when we make that right choice it will make an impact.
“Life is not perfect. We all have hard choices to face on a daily basis, some big and others not so much. But our response to our hard choices can effect the whole outcome.”