Respecting Choices

My aunt can’t understand it.  Her son had chosen to quit his job, to sell his truck, motorcycle and home and take off to live in a redneck hole not far from Cadillac… in a teepee.  No heat, no running water, no money.  He planned to build and sell log cabins.  Naturally, my aunt and uncle protested.  Steve had a good job.  A nice cottage on the lake.  His truck was new, and he had a Harley.  It was stupid.  Insane.  He didn’t even know how to build a cabin, for goodness sakes!!  And he had no money now.  No income.  Nothing.  They got angry.  They fought with him.  They told him he was an idiot.  And this wasn’t the first time this had happened – when he got tattoos, they went off on the same tirade, blasting him, making him sit thru lectures and berating him for doing such a thing.  Anyhow, he left.  And now, sitting across from me, my aunt tells me that she feels bad because Steve asked everyone up to see the new cabin… except her.  He won’t talk to her.  He won’t come around anymore.  She’s hurt by this.

But really, do you blame him?  It’s his life.  His mistakes to make.  His choices to choose.  And they tried to rob him of them.  Belittled him for them.  Ranted and raved angrily over them.  Honestly… if it had been you, would you go back to that?  Put yourself in his place.  It’s his life.  Would you welcome that kind of thing?  Would you want to hear it again?  Would you expect them to do anything more than disapprove of you?

Linda wanted to know what I thought.  I knew the truth – Steve’s in it for the party time.  He likes a good high, likes to get drunk and fish.  He likes the freedom, the ‘I’m different’ aspect of it.  And yeah, it was dumb to leave his job.  It was dumb to sell his truck and motorcycle.  It’s not terribly smart to dive in without your ducks in a row.  But it’s not my life.  It’s his choice, and I have no say in it… so I can only let him do his thing and let him know that I understand that he gets to make the choices he feels best for him.  Steve knows what’s right and wrong… there’s nothing I am gonna say that will change his mind, y’know?  I’m not about to lie – I’ll tell him I don’t think it’s the smartest thing to do, but it’s not my decision to make, dude.

Amazingly, Steve called and came over – to my house!- me, a married older female cousin – more than he went home in the past six months.  Why?  Because he knew when he told me his accomplishments, I would be enthusiastic.  I might not agree with what he did or what he’s doing, but he’s a person, and he’s my friend as well as my cousin, and they’re not my choices to make.  And because I respect his freedom, his choice… he’s kewl with it.

What I don’t understand is the astounding amount of Christians who can’t respect another person’s choices.  You see it all the time.  Some overzealous mission-minded Christian who has to bring up a verse or something about church everytime their friend comes around who’s a nonChristian.  They are always looking for a ‘window’, an ‘opportunity’ to insert something.  After all, it is their Christchun Duty to convert the lost, to save souls, to win lives for the Lord, right?

Wrong.  I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong.  The only one who can save a soul is Christ.  The only one who can convert the lost is Christ.  And you can’t force a person to do something they don’t want to.  That they’re not called to.  Yes, I’m as serious as a heart attack.  If God hasn’t got it planned for that person to accept Him, nothing you can say or do is gonna change that.  No amount of praying is gonna soften that heart.  Sorry.  And do you think that your bugging and pestering and verse dropping and so on is gonna make that person want to be around you?  Hello – !!!  You aren’t respecting his or her choice.  You suck – you’re pushy, demanding, and they don’t need that shit in their lives.  They know what you believe, they know where to get it if they want it… enough already!!  You don’t have to kill a dead horse.

Jesus didn’t do it, either.  Once a young man came to Him (in Mark 10)  and asked what he had to do to gain eternal life?  When Jesus told him, he “was sad at that saying and went away grieved”.  Jesus didn’t keep at the young man, telling him again, coaxing him, mentoring him, working him over, trying to keep him there… he simply let the man go.  He respected the guy’s choice – even if it wasn’t the choice Christ wanted for him.  He knew that nothing He could do would change the man’s mind or decision.  And He let it go at that.  Why can’t we?  I mean, I give you the truth here on this site.  If you don’t like it, you know where the door is (or you can bypass that entry or not comment), and that’s your choice.  I’m not gonna follow you to your site and lambast you with verses or drop Christianese phrases around you.  You know what you want to do.  It’s your decision, and nothing I do or say can change that.  Christ can – the Spirit can make HUGE changes in your heart, but I can’t do a damn thing, and I know it.  To try – to foist my faith and beliefs on you – would be to disrespect your choice, and shut off a good friendship that doesn’t need to be killed.  That’s just dumb.

Now I’m not talking about other beliefs, here.  If you hold to a different belief system and disagree with me, while that’s your choice and I can respect that and not foist mine on you, it will mean separating myself from you.  I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.  But if you aren’t at odds with me, why would I use faith as a bludgeoning tool?  And even in the case of different beliefs, I still respect the fact that you’ve made your choice.  And I’m kewl with it because not being kewl with it won’t change anything, anyhow – it’s YOUR choice, not mine.  I just cannot associate with false beliefs that might hurt my walk and/or my testimony.

Anyhow… choices.  I’m just doing a lot of thinking about these things these days….

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