My teenagers tell me almost everyday that I make things too serious. "I don't get why it's a big deal, Mom."
Doing homework or not, finishing their chores or not, watching a particular movie or not, listening to certain music or not, Hanging out with friends or not. These choices they can sometimes see the importance of but every choice doesn't have serious consequences according to teenage wisdom. YOLO is a common defense when I ask them if they've considered where today's choice will leave them tomorrow.
The argument that you only live once makes even little decisions bigger in my mind. Clicking your seat belt could change whether or not you live, spend your life in a wheel chair, or walk away. Making the right decision on that one could literally save your life. You Only Live Once.
On the other hand,doing something crazy, unwise, or just plain rebellious because you only live once appears to be just a small step without importance.
I make a trip from my house to the lab to have my blood drawn twice a week. After my kidney transplant a few years ago I was only making these trips on Monday. On one such day, I dropped my kindergartner off at school, got my blood work done and then proceeded to walk home, six blocks. I followed what I thought was my regular route home...with one exception. A street crew left a "Street Closed" sign in the middle of an intersection I needed to cross. I didn't want to walk into traffic so I made the decision to turn the corner, get behind the sign and cross the street. Not a problem. The mistake I made was to put one of my ear-buds in to listen to a book I was reading. No big deal.
Unfortunately, when the cement truck working on the road was the only sound I heard, I got confused and lost my place on the sidewalk.
Anyone who knows me, also knows that I get turned around and off track all the time. This day though I managed to get too far west. I however felt assured that I was on the correct corner, replaced my ear-bud, and went happily on my way. After covering the requisite number of blocks, I turned left, did not smell the body shop near my house, and I yanked out my ear-buds, pausing. Something was wrong. I could hear the shop, but not in the spot where it should have been. I could still hear construction so I thought maybe I'd accidentally gone around the block instead of in a straight line. My cane still tapped against the side walk and I could hear where I wanted to be, so I took a step forward.
The world fell out from under me...literally. I slid down a steep dirt incline into a hole about four feet deep. My elbow was scraped, I was covered in red dirt, and I was completely lost. My first instinct was to scramble out of the hole as fast as I could. But then what?
I didn't know which direction I was facing. I obviously didn't know which street I was on, there are no holes on my street. I didn't even know which part of town I'd wandered into. I sat in the hole for a few minutes and called my husband. He didn't answer.
It wouldn't have mattered anyway, I thought. What would I tell him. "I'm in a hole. Somewhere in Ivins. near construction."
How would he find me? How would anyone find me?
At that moment I made a decision. I called my good friend Laura and asked her to pick up my son from kindergarten. I would find my way out and back home again, but I didn't know how long it would take or what I'd have to do to get there.
My friend, of course,freaked out and got in her car to drive around and look for me. I did what I knew would work. I asked God for help.
See, here's the thing, I don't hope for miracles, or believe in them. I expect them. My Father-in-Heaven loves me. When I do stupid things like get lost, arrogant, and fall in holes. When I think I know what I'm doing. When every choice mattered, and I didn't think it did. He still came to my rescue.
In this case he came in the form of a guy with a GPS on his cell phone.
Once I'd managed to get back to the edge of the trench I was in, a very nice guy walked up to me. "Are you alright? You just fell into the trench we're digging for the sewer line."
"Where am I," I asked.
Well, he didn't know. He wasn't familiar with Ivins at all. He worked the construction crew but didn't know anything about our little city. I asked him where the auto-body shop was. He didn't know there was one. I asked him where State street was. He didn't know. I asked him what street I was on. "Its a construction area, there aren't any street signs."
My husband still gives me a hard time about how I handled this. It scared him worse than it did me. The guy offered to give me a ride home, but I didn't want to give this stranger my address. Meanwhile...my friend is still driving around looking for me and neither I, nor my knight in shining armor know where I am.
We asked his phone for directions to State Street but he was directionally challenged and didn't know where the GPS was telling him to go. It was now close to noon, so the sun's position in the sky didn't help with navigation.
The thought then came to my mind"Listen for the heaviest traffic."
The single choice that changed everything for me was the choice to listen for entertainment instead of for my markers to get home. I still wasn't listening to the right helps.
Tuning my ears into what I needed set me back on track. I had to walk an extra six blocks, I scared my friend to death, and I came home wounded and dirty, but I made it back. All based on one little decision.
"Its not that big of a deal mom." I hear my kids say all the time. It is a big deal. Every choice big or small is a big deal. Maybe you won't end up in a hole, literally, like I did. Maybe you'll end up in a dark abyss of the mind and soul. Maybe you're current wander through darkness and despair started with one little choice like who or what to listen to. If you tell yourself that something doesn't matter, it probably does. If you spend too much time doing nothing because you can't decide what the right thing to do is, you're stuck in the bottom of that hole.
Choosing something, even nothing, is still a choice. Don't fool yourself into thinking it doesn't matter. You matter. treat your life as the precious opportunity it is. Stay close to the people who love you, listen to the voices that have crawled out of a few holes and do something to find your way back home.