FEATURE ARTICLEBy Charlie Courtois
Here God Paints His Beauty
The Abundance of Life Is About Choices
We start making choices somewhere between the age of seven and nine. I remember the first bad choice I got caught in when I was in the first grade. I told a lie, and I got caught. Did it stop me from making bad choices? Sometimes I thought about not doing something because of past experience, but now when I reflect on some of my pretty rotten choices I come up with the idea that I was either dumb or just plain hardheaded.
As the years pile up the choices become more and more important, and it seems that the choices never end. Should I hang around with this one or that one. Should I reveal this or that to my parents? Then of course there is the coverup, and then, that failing and I get exposed for my misdeed. Finally, the teens are over, and now young adulthood brings on graver and harder choices. Then who to go to work for, and what kind of things should I spend my money on, and, before you know it, some of the earlier choices I made go sour, and then the piper has to be paid.
Adulthood begins to take its toll. Our poor choices begin to interfere with our duties and responsibilities in life. In my case my parents were drowning themselves in their daily booze consumption, and there was definitely not any reason to turn to them for advice. Financial obligations were driving my life faster than I wanted, and the consequences of the rotten choices were piling up and choking me.
Along comes the military obligation which I thought I had avoided through scheming and trying to beat the system. I failed, and lost control to Uncle Sam, but I made what turned out to be a very good choice and the Army became like my family, well not quite, but the food, shelter, and sick-care came as part of the required service, and when the Bay of Pigs came along in the 60's, JFK added another year of mandatory service. I wrote a letter to an old flame in Long Beach to share some of my German experiences while I was recuperating in the hospital, and within a few weeks this old flame started a fire and before I knew what hit me, I was completely and totally involved. Coincidentally, she and my father arrived within an hour of one and other at the Frankfurt am Main airport. Dad's visit was a total surprise, and how things developed from then on is a total blur. Dad went back to France quickly, and my flame and I became intimate way to fast. But, that train left the station before I could halt it.
Marriage was forced upon us, and that was a huge choice which I made that was wrong. So, things were really horrible. All my own choosing ,which turned out to be irreversible, wrong choice, after wrong choice, and the sad part was that I never really admitted to myself that I caused every bit of my own misery. Seventeen years later my first wife threw in the towel and filed for divorce, albeit the whole process was devastating it finally was over and all of those rotten choices reared their ugly heads once again, and thank goodness for one really loyal friend who rented me a room to stay in at a reasonable cost that I could afford.
Slowly, but surely I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Why? I stumbled in some of my first choices, but I was finally able to take charge of my own existence when I made the hard choices. Before I took the easy way out, the most expedient, and after a few years of clearing up the financial disasters, my over-due payroll and income taxes, the scary choices, were no longer scary; it was the natural thing to do. Once I buckled down to following my plan, executing my plan, and seeing the fruits of my efforts, along with making some very hard, uncomfortable choices, I never looked back. I found that whatever scary choices I faced, I never again hesitated. Thirty-three years later my new mate and me have enjoyed a wonderful life together without even an argument or cross words. It must be because of her, because I am no saint for sure.
Not until I got kicked in the teeth over and over did I recognize where I was going wrong in my choices. Yes, experience turned out to be the great equalizer, and without plenty of it, none of us will ever achieve the successes that I was finally able to achieve. Fourteen years ago my wife and I joined a church and year by year we have given back to the Lord what he mercifully gave us all of our lives. Christ has blessed us abundantly, and we continue to do his work now without thought of ourselves. It is just how we live now. I have finally learned to put the Lord first in my life! Thanks be to God.