I knew I was going to win before we started. At least you’d get that impression if you saw the home video of my brother and I, at a young age, playing the board game Chutes and Ladders. The premise of the game is, ladders go up and chutes go down when a game piece lands on one of those spots. In our version, or rather my version, the chutes and ladders worked both ways when it was my turn, as long as it enhanced my chances of winning the game. However, my brother went backwards every time his game piece landed on either. I was controlling both game pieces and deciding the outcome… me winning our game.
From childhood till the day we die, we are given daily choices to choose right versus wrong. Seems easy in theory to always do the right thing, but sometimes it can be so difficult, even downright painful. Why is that? There are many reasons, but the one I struggle with the most is when it takes an emotional toll on me. Making the right choice can cost you. For example, risking your job to speak up if you notice something unethical, losing a friendship over a disagreement in lifestyle decisions, bearing a financial burden to help someone in need or even finding yourself alone because you took a stance on something you believed in.
I have friends who ask me to socialize on the weekend when all I want to do is sit at home on my couch and watch TV. It’s not the worst offense in the world but all I’m thinking about is the sacrifice I’m making to leave my comfortable couch and go hang out when I’m exhausted from working all week.
Have you ever had to let go of someone you love? Maybe you did it because you knew letting them go was better for them in the long run. Maybe you did it because you couldn’t agree to disagree amicably or maybe it was unhealthy for you emotionally. I’ve let people go for various reasons and no matter what reason it is, it’s always painful. Because somewhere along the line, I let myself care about them.
I learned a long time ago, I can’t control the people in my life. Things can change in an instant, prompting a choice to do what works for me or what works for them. Sometimes what is right is the hardest thing we can do because in the end we aren’t walking away the winner in the situation. We may have to take the loss or have to deal with the backlash brought on by other people’s choices that did not align with our beliefs.
My grandfather passed away from lung cancer, but before he died, I went to his house a couple nights a week to spend time with him. I remember one Sunday afternoon we were sitting on his back porch as the Arizona sun was setting and I asked him, “Grandpa if there was one piece advice you could pass on to me before you go, what would it be?” and he said,
“There is right and there is wrong. Always do the right thing.”
I’ve held on to that truth every day trying to do what’s right in my life. If you find yourself wondering what the right choice in a given situation, ask yourself if it requires a sacrifice on your part. If it does, there is a good chance you are doing the right thing.
I wish life was like winning a child’s bored game and the world was a four-year-old I could convince to do things my way, but life’s not fair.
When it really comes down to making difficult decisions, are we doing what is right or just what is right for us?