Every once in a while, I come across a thought that I really believe has come from a higher power and that is not meant for me alone. I must share it so that it benefits not just me but also others. I’m sure I am not the only one who feels that way. I am sure you have attended a function, church service, course or lecture and heard something and in your mind you thought, “I wish so and so was here to hear this too”. Well, here is one thought I think will benefit many people. It may not necessarily solve your current problem if you have one, but it may explain it.
Every day of our lives, we are faced with these 3 C’s.
We all face challenges. Most of what we do or think is in response to a challenge we are facing. According to wikipedia, A challenge is a general term referring to things that are imbued with a sense of difficulty and victory. Challenges range from the frivolous (what socks should I wear?), to life threatening (I can’t breath). Much of what we do is always in response to a challenge. If you are bored you get up and try to find something exciting to be involved in. If you are hungry, you find something to eat. If you are doing badly in class you may want to attend remedial classes, or study longer hours or engage in something that will deal with that challenge of poor grades.
Many times, we have absolutely no control of which challenges we are faced with. True, some could be as a result of our actions but many are completely beyond our control. Currently in the news, we are watching and hearing about the earthquake in Japan, the subsequent tsunamis, aftershocks and nuclear risk at the Fukushima plant. All these are mighty challenges that are mainly due to a natural disaster. Some of the challenges we face could be because of our background, culture, family and many other situations we find ourselves in that we cannot control. When I drive to work in the morning and there is heavy traffic, or rain the most I can do is just try to survive it. I did not cause it. It has happened to me.
I believe that the challenges we face can differentiate us. If one child grows up in Karen (posh area in Nairobi) being dropped in school every morning by the driver in a big limousine and another grows up in Tala (a town in Kangundo District (split from the larger Machakos District), Eastern Province of Kenya) and has to walk 10 or 15 kilometers daily to and from Kathithyamaa Primary School (I’ve always wanted to use this name in a blog post), these two children will grow up to be very different adults. This one difference in their daily challenges will probably trigger more differences in their outlook in life, their language (or accent) and eventually their entire lives and those of their children for generations to come.
In response to the challenges we face, we make choices. If it is hunger, we respond to it, if it brokeness we find ways of getting money. If it is a conflict with a loved one, we talk to them or find a mediator, if it is a health problem we go to hospital. There are very many ways of responding to challenges. Two people can respond very differently to the same challenge and they end up in very different situations. You may have heard some inspiring stories about positive results coming from a person responding in a certain way to a challenge. In the slums, you will find inspiring stories of young people making themselves useful in one way or another, despite a myriad of challenges of poverty, poor housing and education, insecurity and they end up making a big impact on their lives and of those around them. But you will find in the same slums many who have given up and end up in depression, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and violence.
The choice stage of dealing with our challenges is the only stage at which we have absolute control. I’m sure you have heard someone say things like
When life deals you a lemon… you make lemonade.
What matters in life is not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you.
Your response is your responsibility
and many other permutations of such statements. I think they are right. If someone shouts at me, I can choose to shout back or count to ten
then shout back and consider whether I should behave towards them exactly how I see them behaving towards me.
I hate it when people drive like idiots. But sometimes I consciously decide that just coz someone driving behind me is having a bad day doesn’t mean that I should too. This doesn’t happen often, but when I catch myself about to explode about another driver’s driving habits, I choose to not allow it to mess up my own day or driving habits. I have a friend however, who I don’t like going anywhere with when he is driving. Suddenly the roads are all full of idiots and he is perpetually cursing loudly and stressing himself over people who are completely oblivious of his ‘plight’. He then succeeds to completely foul up his mood before the meetings we are going for and on the way back, he always wonders why these meetings always go so badly. In my head I am like duh! Anyway, I think you get my point. We respond to challenges by making choices. We may not always have control of the challenges we face, but we are fully in control of the choices we make in response to them.
We are in control of the choices we make but cannot dictate their consequences after we have made them. Many people use perceived consequences to decide which choices to make, sounds a bit redundant to say but many times it is in hindsight that we see all this. It gets a bit trickier when for some choices, the consequences take so long to happen that it is easy to think we have gotten away with it, but eventually it will catch up. It may take long but it will catch up. Sometimes when I am in a really difficult ‘choice place’, I find myself asking “What’s the worst that could happen if…” It helps, but not always because sometimes the worst does actually happen.
So there we have it. Three C’s. Challenges, Choices, Consequences. The only place we have control is in our choices. Everyday of our lives we are faced with many choices to make whether we like it or not. Make good ones.