If you’ve ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this image may mean something to you:
This is what life has recently felt like on many fronts. In counseling, I am daily reminded of my powerlessness. In the jail, we can have the best group or service ever and the next day everything changes due to turn over and transition. Living in the house, I still wrestle with what makes some girls run and some girls stay.
Personally, I struggle with all of the hard work I have done to lose weight and achieve physical health, only to find that I have now gained some of that back and have a difficult time making even the smallest good choices on a daily basis. Most days it feels like all of my limbs have been amputated, but I’m still in the fight.
It’s easy to blame all of the obstacles on everyone else, and it would be pure arrogance to claim they are all about me. There is a balance somewhere in between where circumstance meets personal responsibility, and we all face that daily. My circumstances – working several jobs, living between two locations, and scrambling to pay the bills – would suggest that I have every “excuse” to make concessions elsewhere for the sake of convenience. But I know my personal responsibility to myself and those around me. I still have choices, and I am capable of making good choices and bad choices at any given moment.
I think about this a lot when I am working in the jail. Circumstance would suggest that all of my friends there acted out of desperation and many are incarcerated due to systemic poverty and generational curses of addiction, abuse, and trauma. However, we always have choices. We may not LIKE our choices, but when everything else has been stripped away, there is a always a choice to move towards life or move towards death.
One of my favorite movies is Dangerous Minds starring a very young Michelle Pfeiffer. In one scene, she is trying to get the attention of a classroom full of rowdy students, so she writes on the board “I CHOOSE to die.” This gets the students’ attention and makes them angry, but she goes on to explain that in every moment, there is a choice to be made. She points out that each time her students choose to get on the bus headed for school over staying on the street that day, they choose life.
Even though some of us feel trapped by circumstance, we always have choices. My challenge to myself over the next days and weeks is to make life-giving choices, regardless of my circumstances.