Life is unpredictable and we cannot always know beforehand how we might feel about a particular issue. Many things we can only discover in real time. But this doesn’t make us victims of our circumstance and we can still decide beforehand how we want to show up in a given situation.
For instance, this is the essence of our marriage vows. We understand marriage will have its ups and downs, its good days and its bad ones. And our vow communicates our intention to still love each other, for better or for worse. We’re deciding beforehand we will show up and choose love despite whatever the journey of life brings us.
And we’re called to make similar decisions throughout our life and relationships.
For example, we can choose excellence in our work, patience in our parenting, and loyalty to our communities beforehand, even knowing there will also be many days of frustration, disappointment, and sorrow.
This is not putting ourselves in a box or guaranteeing how we will feel in the future. But future unhappiness does not rob us of our freedom to still choose how we want to show up. And we can still choose the good regardless of our other feelings at the moment.
Of course, this does not negate our feelings (they’re often telling us something important), but it doesn’t make us a victim to our feelings either.
We have the freedom and responsibility to live by our guiding principles by deciding beforehand how we will respond to the adventures of life.
While life remains unpredictable and many things are rightly reconsidered, choosing ahead of time who we want to be allows us to make grounded responses and better navigate the storms of life.
Adapt to the changing circumstances of life, but decide beforehand who you want to be. This allows you to live with integrity and not merely conform to your feelings in the moment.