Making Difficult Choices
© Ferna Lary Mills
Just ask my kids and they will tell you, my favorite phrase during times of crisis has always
been, "Sometimes life gives us limited options."  It's almost like a game show where you choose
the option of opening curtain #1, curtain #2, or curtain #3. Only, sometimes, there's only curtain
#1. Period. But we still have the option of opening that curtain or leaving it tightly closed.
Sometimes we have dozens of these curtains, but we don't want to choose any of them. We
want something else instead. Many times, the curtain we want just isn't an option for us.

Through many trials, I have always told my children to review what their options are, study each
and every one, and then make a best-judgment choice. The hardest thing to explain to them is
that by NOT making a choice, sometimes that is a choice in and of itself. Once we make a
conscious decision to do nothing, we have made a choice, albeit not always the best one. At
that point, we have chosen to allow our circumstances to be in control rather than ourselves.

Grief results in change. It affects some of us in more ways than others, but results in change
just the same. For some, it means not only adjusting to the loss of a dear loved one, but the
loss of finances, loss of their home, loss of friends when they must relocate, and more. At a
time when our spirit is at the lowest it can possibly be, we are forced to make some of the
toughest life choices of all. But there are choices that we do have to make.

The hardest one is allowing our self the time and space we need to grieve. Many of us want to
rush past that curtain. It's not pretty. It's unknown. It's painful. And there are so many other
changes going on in our lives that we don't think we have the luxury of the time involved to
make that choice. Truthfully?  If we don't allow our self the time and space to grieve, we may
make the wrong choices in other areas of our life.

Grief is like a curtain all its own. It covers our spirit in a veil of despair and our view of life
around us becomes completely distorted. Different stages of grief have a different thickness of
this veil, so that our view of our own circumstances is seen with a wide range of distortion,
depending on where we are in our own grief process. The inability to see clearly what is going
on around us makes it impossible to make responsible decisions that may affect us for the rest
of our life. So it's imperative that we allow the grieving process in our life in order that we may
begin to see clearly the other "life-options" we must make.

Frustration sets in when we look around and realize that of all the curtains available, there is
just not one available that thrills us. We had a plan for our life and everything was moving along
the right track when suddenly our world and life as we knew it just fell apart when our loved one
died. Now, not only is our life off track, but someone has removed the track and we can't seem
to find a point of reference to tell us where we are or where we are supposed to be going.

Marian and Tom were on the edge of retirement. They had bought some land in the mountains
and had planned on building a retirement cabin there. They spent every vacation for the past
four years working the land and getting it ready. They were preparing for their next vacation
when suddenly Marian was left alone, devastated, trying to figure out what happened to her
world. The one she thought she would spend the rest of her life with was gone in a literal
heartbeat. In one instant, the land they both cherished now held no value to her other than the
memories of the time they had spent working side by side to improve it over the years.

After giving herself the time and space to grieve, she had choices to make.  She reviewed all
her options:  let the land lie and just continue to pay taxes on it for a few years; sell the
land;continue plans to renovate the property ~ None of these options were what she wanted.
She wanted to complete the project and spend the rest of her life there with her husband at her
side. That curtain was closed and no longer available, so she had to review the other options
and make a difficult choice. At the time, it seemed surreal to even think of giving up that land
because it signified more than mere soil and trees. It was their life-long dream. Only his life
wasn't long and their dream disappeared with him.

She finally made the difficult choice to sell the property although she believed a large part of
her life went with the sale.  But it was a limited-option choice. Was it the right one? Maybe.
Maybe not. But she chose to be in control rather than letting her circumstances be in control.
She made a choice.

Over the next twelve years, she made many choices on her own, some greater than she ever
imagined herself capable of making alone. But she took control of her life and even though Tom
would no longer share it with her, there was still purpose for HER life.

Life gives us limited options. Most of the time, making the right choice isn't easy. Change is
difficult for us, especially as we get older, making these choices even harder. But if you have
spent time grieving, if you have been patient with yourself long enough, maybe it's time to start
evaluating your curtains. Maybe it's time to start making some of those difficult choices.

Spend some special time in prayer before committing yourself to a path, to be sure you are
walking the right path, and make the decision to start making some good-judgment decisions
for the rest of YOUR life. There IS life after loss. Yes, it is a much different life, but it can still be
a QUALITY life with purpose. Let the Lord help you find that purpose and allow Him to be your
strength to stand in front of that curtain and decide what you will choose.

May God bless you and bring you to that wonderful place of Peace as only He can.


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