I Am in Control of My Choices

BoundariesAny time is a great time to take stock of boundaries in our lives and renew the desire to take responsibility for our choices. This leads to the fruit of “self-control.” A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else.

Think for a moment how often we use the phrases, “I had to” or “She (he) made me” when explaining why we did or did not do something. These phrases betray our basic illusion that we are not active agents in many of our dealings. We think someone else is in control, thus relieving us of our basic responsibility.

We need to realize that we are in control of our choices, no matter how we feel. This keeps us from making choices to give “reluctantly or under compulsion,” as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says. Paul would not even accept a gift that he felt was given because the giver felt he “had to” give it. He once sent a gift back so “that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced” (see Philemon 1:14).

Jesus said a similar thing to the worker who was angry about the wage for which he had agreed to work: “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” (Matthew 20:13). The man had made a free choice to work for a certain amount and was angry because someone who had worked fewer hours had gotten the same wage.


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Throughout the Scriptures, people are reminded of their choices and asked to take responsibility for them. Like Paul says, if we choose to live by the Spirit, we will live; if we choose to follow our sinful nature, we will die (Romans 8:13). Making decisions based on others’ approval or on guilt breeds resentment, a product of our sinful nature. We have been so trained by others on what we “should” do that we think we are being loving when we do things out of compulsion.

Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with.


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  1. Dale Crawford says

    Thank you, God …. for this timely excerpt from Boundaries… A situation arose yesterday at a Wedding I had to privilege to perform and ‘choices’ and ‘consequences’ are sometimes very hard to take along with the ‘responsibility’ component… Thank you for posting this today… I have forwarded it to the Matron of Honor who is a good friend to the Bride and I am praying your words will encourage her. The words ‘what we should do’ also have factored into the situation on numerous occasions. I am praying this young couple realizes the power of God and that He is always in control… if they would but let Him be the Center.

  2. Bernie Reed says

    I wished I’d read this years ago! I made a decision based off of others encouraging me to make a life time commitment and it was the wrong decision. A life lived full of resentment takes the joy out of life.
    So how do I move forward knowing that I made a decision – – based on compulsion?

    • Jen Gracie says

      I believe we have responsibility even with compulsion, please bear in mind though, I don’t know your definition of compulsion or exactly what you are describing by that.

      In Deuteronomy 30:19, God urges us to choose life that we may live, He says that he lays before us life and death…. if we are to believe the bible it means that God always sets choices before us so that we can indeed make pro God and life affirming choices.

      I believe what we say yes to once may become a habit when we repeat it, or even a compulsion, or we might be brought up in a family where it is more difficult to recognise a compulsion because of the family patterns of behaviour.

      Regardless God still ultimately offers choices. As a child you may be limited to choose, but as an adult you can decide to choose fully and be empowered for life and love even when we have made mistakes that have cost us dearly.

      Perhaps, you will need to define for yourself what that compulsion is all about and the point at which you believe you had free will as a responsible adult, and then choose. Today and now is always a good time to choose 🙂 – you can’t do much about the past, but you can choose for today and the future.

      Choose to affirm your life and not to deny it by taking responsibility for your choices. Choose to forgive yourself and others, why wouldn’t you when God has an ocean of forgiveness for you available for the asking? Choose joy over resentment, and choose to take whatever action is necessary for you to disentangle from compulsion. Wishing you much joy in the journey Bernie, and freedom from compulsion.

    • Susan says

      I may be in the same situation that you are. It is difficult to live life wondering, “what if…” If you are committed to staying in the situation then do all that you can to make your life the best it can be, realizing that you do have choices and if you choose to stay- that is your choice. Be your best self, serve others as often as you can and develop hobbies and friendships that enrich and satisfy you. Taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is a key to inner peace.

  3. GJS says

    I am facing this very situation my husband has been diagnosed with dementia he has been progressively getting more verbally abusive towards me wanting me to bail him out of his bad decisions by scaring me. I know I need to get away from him and move out but I am scared. Its my choices that can make it better or worse.

    • Susan says

      Sorry to hear about your husband’s dementia; it is a disease that can cause a person to be angry, unfortunately because of their mental state they can’t be reasoned with. Talk to your doctor, clergy, family, and any other resources you have to see what your options are. If you are in physical danger, please move out immediately. God bless.

  4. Sharon says

    When you are a nurse and caregiver to a family’ member and work in government places that give 3 times the work and no allowance for lunch it is hard. I have worked in many areas and seen the worst because hints that happen to people. That is why I have no kids. I now have heath issues early in life but when you are an only child you do not have much chose or even as a single mom. Some things you can not choose like eating healthy and exercising and getting sick. I make no excuses whether sick or not I work.

    • gwen says

      bless u Sharon! ur not alone in the difficult choices of this life & Jesus is fully engaged or wants to be in ur circumstances. i encourage u to stay connected to Him & allow space for community support. we can easily slip into old patterns of sin & feel victimized by life while missing our Savior’s call to come away w/ Him. He may applaud our perseverance in the valleys & long to lead u to deeper, sustaining joy, peace & intimacy daily as we surrender to His way, truth & resurrected, overcoming life. love & prayers precious one!

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