I believe that life is a series of choices. Some we have control over and some we don’t. I learned this from my parents who talked to me for years about how choices I make in the present affect my future and those I love. Some decisions that I made I learned a valuable lesson from that I tried not to repeat. Some decisions I made turned out to be just right for me. Some were made with great thought and research while others were made on a whim. I don’t believe there is some celestial book in the sky with my future completely mapped out for me. I do believe that there are placed before us infinite possibilities for what we can accomplish and how we can leave the world a better place.
My parents, especially mom, stressed to me the importance of making the choice to finish my education. I made a promise to them that I would not get married until I graduated from college. So my husband and I waited until spring break my senior year of college to get married. I know that mom would have preferred that I waited until I graduated from law school to get married, but that was the choice I made. Twenty years later, I strongly believe that was the correct choice.
While I was in law school, I choice to have our first child. I know that our parents (especially mine) were concerned that the choice we made could mean the end of my legal career before it started. But our beautiful daughter Sara was born during the second year of law school. She was a great baby and my husband was an amazing father. Her arrival did not slow down my education at all. I think she kept me grounded and focused.
The emotions I felt twenty-four years ago when I embarked on my adult life came to mind this weekend when we took Sara to college. She has made the decision to attend a small private liberal arts university in the mid-west and to study architecture. She will have numerous choices to make in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, some major and many more minor in comparison. I hope and pray that she chooses wisely and with great thought. But I know the reality is she will make some choices on the spur of the moment. She will make some choices that she will wish she can take back, but will have to live with the consequences forever. She will make some choices that I won’t agree with. She will make some choices that at first will seem insignificant, but in the end have a major and permanent impact on her life and maybe others.
Her father and I have discussed with her (and her little brother Peter) how they are responsible ultimately for the choices they make. We love them unconditionally no matter what choices they make, although we may be disappointed with a particular decision. I believe that we all need to take responsibility for the choices we make in life. For you only get out of life what you put into it. And I hope that I leave the world a better place especially if it is through the lives of our children.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.