Every summer, my family spends some time at Indian Lake in Michigan. My husband’s family has been going there all his life, and we continued the tradition. There is a campground nearby, and on that campground there is a little craft barn.
In that little craft barn, kids and adults alike can paint pottery at a blue light special price – literally next to nothing.
As a teacher I start every school year with this statement: “Today, you are being offered a plate. You might not be able to choose what happens to you, but you CAN choose how you respond to it.”
So, one summer quite a few years ago now, I found myself carefully using a brush to paint the word “choose” on my pottery plate. That plate has been presented to countless high school students on the first day of school – as well as many school days in between the first and last day – especially when kids need a little extra motivation.
A sweet, creative friend of mind saw my plate – she even helped me fix it after I accidentally dropped it in the middle of a very dramatic teaching moment (can you imagine the kids’ faces when I dropped and broke the “choose plate”? They were sincerely worried about the application…WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? :)). Well, for my birthday one year, this artsy “perfect gift giver” friend gave me a self-inking stamp of the word CHOOSE.
And it began.
Not only did I have a PLATE to represent the choice we ALL have to live this best day ever life, I now had a stamp. And you can BET I use it ALL THE TIME. In fact, not only do I chase students around who particularly need it, I also have students VOLUNTARILY asking for the choose stamp when they are having a difficult day.
It all boils down to that ONE word: CHOOSE.
Really understanding that word has caused a paradigm shift in my life. I realized that even though there is a WHOLE LOT I don’t have control over, there is also a WHOLE LOT I can control my response to.
Just to be clear, I always provide the caveat for my kiddos who struggle with depression and anxiety, because I understand there are just some things we can’t choose. There are chemical responses in the brain that really make it difficult at times.
But we can always try.
I can choose to tell – to get help.
I can choose not to gossip.
I can choose to speak up for the marginalized.
I can choose NOT to be bored and realize there’s a whole lot I can glean from ANY and EVERY situation.
I can choose to only let POSITIVE STUFF come out of my mouth.
I can choose to encourage others when I feel most discouraged.
I can choose my words carefully.
I can choose to see beauty.
I can choose to rest.
I can choose PERSPECTIVE and see it from someone else’s point of view.
I can choose to see others like Jesus sees them.
I can choose.
Just this year for my birthday, my friend “upgraded” my stamp to one that actually LOOKS like a plate with the word CHOOSE on it! So now I have TWO stamps to chase my students around it, and THREE REMINDERS (don’t forget the plate!) that although I can’t always choose what happens to me, I CAN choose what I’m going to do with that pain, with that anger, with that frustration, with that happiness.
I think next I’m going to invest in some temporary tattoos – who knows. But regardless, I want to constantly remind myself that my response to what happens not only determines my day, but the day of others, and if I’m living every day as if it were my last, well, what would I choose?
Today, I choose joy.
SUPER IMPORTANT NEWS! I wrote a WHOLE BOOK ABOUT CHOOSING!
My book, Choose: An Invitation to the Best Day Ever Adventure launched on October 10, 2017!
Based on the John 10:10 idea that Jesus came so we can have life to the FULL, each of the 21 chapters has a challenge, a choice, and a change for YOU to live the Best Day Ever Adventure Jesus has for YOU! I hope you’ll grab it on Amazon!
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