Here’s a fact of life that many people have a hard time accepting: unless you were being physically manipulated or had a gun put to your head, you have never been forced to do anything. Not homework. Not driving on the right side of the road. Not take a job you hate or anything else. You may have felt like you were being forced to do things, but the reality is that you could have chosen to behave differently than you do at any given moment of your life. Often we choose to behave the way we do because the consequences of doing things differently are so unappealing to us. This is completely legitimate, but we need to be honest enough to own the fact that we still made our own choice.
The problem we have is dealing with the reality that all choices have consequences. Many of us hold onto a childish desire to have perfect freedom without ever having to deal with any negative consequence. (And to be clear, by “negative consequence”, I’m not talking about punishment or even cause-effect of choosing poorly. Often negative consequences don’t have their source in anything we do wrong – they are just there!) Obviously, this is not how the world works. Just ask people like Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln. But many people feel like they are forced to live in ways that do not fit their desires or values because to do otherwise carries a real risk of some negative consequence. (God describes this tendency of ours: “you are very willing to commit evil instead of suffering.”)
When you understand how completely responsible you are for every choice you make, it can be very empowering. I may still make the same sort of choices I made when I felt like I had no choice. Or I may decide to go another way that I hadn’t thought to try before. But it will be my choice.
You can make any choice you want in life . . . You just have to live with the consequences!