The choices we make affect other people. We sometimes forget that. Whole generations can suffer the consequences of our actions. If we believe otherwise, we are kidding ourselves.
My grandmother was raised in the Church, but she left it all behind when she was 18 years old. As a result, the missionaries were charged with converting my family when I was growing up. I feel very blessed that I had that opportunity. It could have worked out much differently.
Life in general has a way of bringing us to decisions that can make or break others. Adults make decisions which can have life-changing consequences for their children and grandchildren. We choose to be faithful to our spouse or to cheat. We choose to drink alcohol or not. We choose to become addicted to drugs or to keep our bodies clean. We make the choice to be prudent with our finances or to bring debt to our family. We choose to be honest in our dealings with our fellow man or to bring dishonor and even criminal activity that affects others, including those we love. We choose to be kind or abusive.
Each of the decisions above, as well as every other decision we make, has an impact on others. It is prudent to think about the consequences to others, as well as ourselves, before making choices. Recently, I’ve been a quiet observer to the suffering of others as a consequence of the actions of another person. It reminded me of a chain of stacked dominos falling as the first one was gently hit. As one domino fell, it hit the second one, causing it to hit the third one, then the fourth, the fifth, etc., until the whole chain was left flat on the floor.
So, what can we do to prevent the dominos from falling? The key is to keep that very first domino standing in an upright position. Carefully weigh every choice to make sure that none of the dominos are subjected to the slightest breeze that could put the chain at risk. Ask yourself, “What impact will my choice have on my spouse? My children? My grandchildren? My neighbors? My coworkers? My friends? My associates? My fellow church members?”
My husband wants to take a trip and tour a major museum. When he originally broached the subject with me, I was excited. As I did the online research in preparation for our trip, I realized how large the facility is and how much walking is involved. I have a bad back and a metal plate in my right ankle. I am also carrying way too much weight for my tiny bones and small frame.
When he first talked about making this trip to this museum, I was having a hard time walking around the grocery store. The simple little eating decisions I’d been making on a daily basis was now about to impact my husband’s desire for a vacation to see something he wants to see. I’ve spent the last 10 months trying to rectify that. I am now 66 pounds lighter and can now walk one mile. It is finally time to plan this trip.
I now realize that there are many ways my daily eating decisions were affecting others. It blows me away to think that less than a year ago it was more important to me to have that bowl of ice cream (or multiple bowls) at night than to be able to sit on the floor and play with my grandchildren. This year during “Granny Camp,” after I’d lost the first 50 pounds, I was able to be much more active with the children than in previous years.
There is more work to be done, but I’ve started the process of making better choices. It’s been eye-opening to see the dominos that were falling around me because I was not being honest with myself. I had been kidding myself that my choices only affected me, and that is simply not true.
Thinking about all this makes me truly repentant for the 20 years I was not active in the Church. I was not being honest with myself then, either. I couldn’t see that my own bitterness and lack of ability to endure was having an impact on my husband, children, and extended family. I saw it as a “personal” decision. Well, it turns out that “personal” decisions aren’t as personal as we would like them to be. “Personal” decisions have consequences for others, as well as ourselves.
It would have been better if I had learned these lessons in my youth; however, I’m glad I have finally seen the light. You can bet that the decisions and choices I make in the future will be based on that chain of dominos. I’ll be taking into consideration the lives of others and their wellbeing. The choices we make really do affect others.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.