March 13, 2007


Warning to all readers, I feel myself stepping up on a soapbox now so you are forewarned.

For awhile my email signature has been:

"It's our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
-Albus Dumbledore

I have had a wide variety of signatures over the years and often I don't have a signature at all. Every once in awhile though there is just a consistent message I feel like sending the world I guess. Right now it is about choices and how we all have them to make, and how our choices influence and show who we are.

Last night Serona and I were having a deep philosophical conversation about fundamental ontology and other things on our date. It went on throughout the course of the evening and on the drive home I mentioned to him that "When you get right down to it, our choices determine who we are far more than any innate abilities we have." Which I fully acknowledge is a rewording of my sig line. I also know it is not popular to say to some philosophy students. At that point we were talking about people who are inspiring and people who are looked up to. There usually is nothing truly unique and special about them, it is more honestly a collective combination of the choices they have made over the course of their lives. I suppose the special part is that they were disciplined and focused enough to make consistent choices that led them to become the person they are. I love reading presidential biographies and biographies of successful people because you get a glimpse at this very thing, seeing the collective choices and behavior they made through their lives.

There are times when we get that as homeschoolers. The whole "I could never do that" or the supermom stuff that comes along with that. Still there is really nothing special about us that makes us uniquely able to do the things we do. Other than the fact that we have made the choices to do so and the choices necessary to make it work. And that is not unique or a part of our innate makeup - it is just a choice that we consistently make. Also those positive choices we make affect other choices we don't. Remember there are reasons not to be my kid too.

We all face lots of choices every day. Everyone does and some of them we think about and many of them we do not. Yet when we realize that the continual build-up of our choices is creating the person we are becoming should we not take more care with some of our choices. Being more intentional in the things we do? I suppose it depends on where you are headed but really thinking through your choices and where they are leading you can generally only be a good exercise and habit to get into.

There is nothing special about me or what I am doing here or in my home that someone else can not chose to do themselves. Many may not want to do what I am doing or want to make the choices it requires to do so - just as I may not want to make their choices. Still we need to let each other off the hook and realize that saying "I could never be x" is not an honest statement (with rare exceptions) it is rather "I choose not to be x".

The importance of this is we can no longer give easy excuse for the things we don't do by simply saying we can't do them. We assume responsibility for our choices and our actions that we choose not to do those things. Not that we are called to do them, or even that we should, but to pretend we simply can't provides us an easy excuse and leads us to not be intellectually honest with ourselves.

I get asked about reading to our kids a lot. About when we find time to do so. We choose to do it, that is all there is. We make the choice to read each day. We make the choice to do it instead of something else. Where do we find time to play games, we choose to. Sure this inherently means we are making the decision to forgo other things as well.

More and more I realize it is not a question of "How do you do x?" because the answer simply is we do. The question really is "What leads you to make those choices above others?" So the next time you want to think you can not do whatever it is you are impressed someone else is doing remind yourself it is not likely that you can not do it yourself but rather you make other choices that right now prevent that from being an option for you. Realize I am using present tense - right now, that does not in any way mean that can not change.

My FIL is a pastor and conversation after conversation with him about a wide variety of issues comes back to the same two things. Change requires discipline and the Nike slogan of "Just Do It" really is true. There is no magic pill, there is not typically a justifiable excuse. We have lots of "yes buts...." but none of them can really avoid us accepting responsibility for our choices. If we want to affect change in our lives we need to look at our choices and bring our choices in line with our goals and desires. Then we can be intellectually honest with ourselves and accept responsibility for both the choices we make and the ones we do not.

There is no real benefit to come from fooling ourselves into thinking people are inherently better than us or can accomplish things we never can. We need to admit that we chose not to make choices and be okay with that fact. Each of us is walking a unique path and we are not all called to be the same or accomplish the same things and we need to be okay with that. Also always remember we are only seeing glimpses of each other, only seeing what we choose to show each other. We never see the whole picture. We never really see the messy floors, the anger, the house of cards finances or all the other flaws that people don't talk about when we see their shining moments. That is okay - but we need not fool ourselves into believing anyone is a superhero that no one can ever be like. Then take responsibility for the choices we are making as well as the choices we are not making and remember that when you get right down to it, our choices determine who we are far more than any innate abilities we have.

So improve the things you want to and accept responsibility for the ones you choose to not fully develop and be okay with the choices you are making. Just my .02 and I am stepping off my soapbox now.



  1. Lindsay7:40 PM

    Wow, Tenniel. Thanks so much for posting that. Yes, I am impressed by much of what you (and other bloggers I read) do, and I get so many great ideas from you. Thanks for reminding us we have the choice to make the right choice

  2. Anonymous6:28 PM

    AMEN! That nail was squarely hit on the head and then some.

    Blessings - Lori

  3. Well said and oh so true! You are truly blessed with communication skills. I could speak from the same soapbox (and sometimes try to), but I always end up offending (which is never my intention).

    God Bless!