I am Choosing to Live

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“I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We’ll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”

It’s easy to equate Lent with what we do during these six weeks – fasting, abstinence, extra prayer, giving something up… All of these things are good, but I don’t think they are the essence of Lent. After all, we could drag our way through six weeks, grudgingly offering up this or that, without arriving at Easter refreshed and renewed in our faith. While what we do is important, I believe that the “how” of Lent is more important than the “what” of Lent. Lent has a strong baptismal character. It is a time we have to reflect, to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, but also a time to repent of our own sins and renew our own conversion, as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises on Easter. Lent is a choice – a choice to follow Jesus more closely, a choice to leave behind a life of sin, a choice to embrace a life of grace. This is a choice we face constantly throughout our life, but Lent gives us the opportunity to renew it and focus on it more closely. It is a time to remember that conversion is not one moment, but an ongoing state of life as we journey through this life in hopes of living happily with our savior in the next life. Choosing to be a Christian is a big choice, but it is really the sum of little choices that we make everyday.

Following is a story I heard on a retreat a few years ago. It inspired me and made me think about how each choice I make every day influences who I am, and the “big” choice I make of being a Christian.

Life’s Choice

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Michael replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or .. you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or…I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or… I can point out the positive side of life, choose the positive side of life.

 “Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”

 I reflected on what Michael said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of! intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied. “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon to be born daughter,” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or… I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Michael continued, “…the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read “he’s a dead man. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. “Yes, I replied.” The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, “Gravity.” Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

In Lent, we face the same choice Michael faced after his accident. Lent reminds us of our sinfulness, our wounded nature and our weakness. But, it also reminds us that we are not defined by our weakness, but by the love and strength of God. On our own, we are wounded, but because of God, we are offered new life. Every Lent, we have a new opportunity to say, “I choose to live.” Every time we offer something up, every time we fast or abstain, or do a good deed, we are choosing to Live. What we do for Lent can change, but how we live Lent should always be the same – freely choosing to renew our conversion, freely choosing to separate from bad habits or sin, freely choosing to love… freely choosing to live.

Wishing all of you a blessed and heartfelt Lent!

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Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We’ll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!

Equipping CatholicFamilies: Keep LOVE in LENT

Call Her Happy:40 Simple Lenten Activities for Kids

Lenten Love: Little Acts of Love

Building Rocks(pending)

Grow the Roses: Keep Love in Lent

Family At The Foot Of The Cross: Loving Service

Catholic Homeschooling Joy: A Lenten Activity

JOY:Keep the Love in Lent

Twenty Tuesday Afternoons: Tuesday # 11: Pancake Tuesday / Keeping Love in Lent

Campfires and Cleats: Why a Failing Lent Really Isn’t

Harrington Harmonies: Make a Lenten Holy Hour

A Mommy of Three:Good Deeds for Lent

Loving the Semi Country Life: Lent:special time to reflect and keep the love in lent

Written By the Finger of God: A 7 Step Lenten Plan

Mommy Bares All: Giving Up and Making Space for Love this Lent

The Irish Lassie Shop: Seek God Everywhere

Hand-Maid with Love: Living Lent, Loving Lent

Words On Heaven: IN THE DESERT FOR 40 DAYS

On The Way Home: Keeping LOVE in Lent

Homeschooling with Joy: Keep Love in Lent

Mountain Grace: Keep Love in Lent

Eyes On Heaven: I am Choosing to Live

Joy Alive in Our Hearts:”God’s Love at Work”

Life of Fortunate Chances: Love is Fun: Keeping Love in Lent

Fifth of Five: Keep the LOVE in Lent

I Blog Jesus: for Praying our Loud!

Overflow: Loving Lent with Little Ones

This Cross I Embrace: Keep LOVE In Lent

Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent

Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification…

Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent

Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent

Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous

Rosary Mom: Keeping Love in Lent

LoveLetters 7.10: Teacups {Keeping the Love in Lent}

Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent

Blessed with Full Hands: Keeping love in Lent- Praise Him

Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey

These Little Blessings: Gifting Love this Lent

The Cajun Catholic: The our Father; a lenten reflection

Truly Rich Mom: Keeping Love in Lent… Even When It Is Difficult

GATHERING GRACES:Keeping LOVE in LENT

SaIsa Pang Sulyap – Fullness Of His Love

LiturgicalTime: Keeping Love in Lent – Finding Balance

Grace Loves Iggy: love in lent

Sacred Oysters: Empty (Keeping LOVE in LENT)

Tercets:Make Heart Rosary Decades to Pray for Others

The Diary of a Sower: Our Lenten Prayer Tree

A Living Garden — Giving for Others with Love: Keeping LOVE in LENT

Homegrown Catholics: Motivated by my childrens’ activities {Lent}

MyBroken Fiat: Keeping Love in Lent… Barely

Journey to Wisdom: Keeping Love in Lent: Bands of Love

Softening My Heart: An Anniversary Lesson duringLent

33 thoughts on “I am Choosing to Live

  1. What a great story that was. It’s very important that we control our outlook on life more than most of the time. I choose life!

    +Chad.

    I have set before you death and life. Choose Life! Dt 30:19

    • Thanks, Chad. I hopped over to your blog as well and saw your post about the Our Father… Great reflections… And congratulations to you and your wife on your new little one! Wishing you a blessed Lent…

  2. “Lent has a strong baptismal character.” Too true! The other day, I read this article at NCR: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/6-liturgical-no-nos-during-lent

    I haven’t ever encountered a church that empties its holy water fonts for Lent, and I’m grateful I haven’t. Blessing with holy water — *especially* during Lent — gives me peace. And I’m guessing that’s because using holy water symbolizes baptism, which is always joyful. Love your post, Ellen, for its focus on the blessings of Lent and not simply the sacrifices associated with it.

    • I know that I, for one, often take baptism for granted and forget the regular impact it should have on my life… I’m glad we have the season of Lent to remember it…

  3. Thanks for sharing, Ellen! I agree that Lent is a choice of following Jesus more closely, a choice to leave behind a life of sin, a choice to embrace a life of grace. We should do everything intentionally this Lenten season. Have a blessed Lent!

  4. Wow! Amazing story and an amazing storyteller! May God reward your charity in taking the time to tell it. God be with you and bless you and yours always, especially this Lent.

    • Thank you, Aymee. It really struck me when I heard it also – enough that I frequently remember it even though it’s been several years since I heard it. God bless you and your family as well.

  5. I think you are absolutely right- how we approach Lent is so much more than what we do to observe it. I have seen so many wonderful ideas as I check out new blogs through “Follow Frenzy” and it is tempting to want to do it all- but, I guess, what I should think about instead of what to do, and what not to do- is what will help ME and MY FAMILY to really keep love in Lent! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • I’m really enjoying the “Follow Frenzy” too – what a great way to get connected with other Catholics also trying to live and deepen their faith, in real life!

  6. Your blog is the best one I have visited yet on this Follow Frenzy. The story about Michael and the comparison with our Lenten trials is one I won’t soon forget, but pass on.

    • Thank you! I enjoy blogging, and have also really enjoyed finding new blogs through the Follow Frenzy, and hearing other reflections on how to put meaning in Lent… It’s helped to have this hook up at the beginning – all too often I find myself remembering the real spirit of Lent too close to the end…

  7. I really like that: Lent is a choice. I think I might have to hang that on my fridge as a reminder. I’ve heard that story before, but thank you for including it as it is definitely something to keep reminding myself of.

  8. A very touching story, and an uplifting one as well! It’s true that the lenten season is a choice;a choice whether to live or not. In this season, amidst all the temptations we’re surrounded with, if we surrender to them and fail, we would be choosing to die. On the other hand, if we hold on till the end and pass the test, we would be definitely choosing to live, for afterwards we would be celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Christ. I agree that the “how of lent” is more important than the “what of lent”, and that’s because the “how of lent” can lead to the true meaning of the “why of lent”, while the “what of lent” by itself cannot.

    I like how you related Michael’s story to lent and the reflections you made on it, especially the part where you say: “What we do for Lent can change, but how we live Lent should always be the same”.

  9. “Choosing to be a Christian is a big choice, but it is really the sum of little choices that we make everyday.” – I loved that. Very beautifully written post.

  10. . Lent reminds us of our sinfulness, our wounded nature and our weakness. But, it also reminds us that we are not defined by our weakness, but by the love and strength of God.

    I just might have to memorize this sentences because they explain my beliefs about lent using a different vocabulary Lent is all about Jesus, not about how much I can fast, suffer or strive to do.

  11. What an inspiring post! What an inspiration Michael is…just the attitude we need more of!
    This is just what I want to focus on: “how we live Lent should always be the same – freely choosing to renew our conversion, freely choosing to separate from bad habits or sin, freely choosing to love… freely choosing to live.”

    • Thank you, Monica, and thank you for leading this Lenten Link Up… I think it’s a great idea, and I’m hoping to keep my list of Follow Frenzy blogs to come along later and say happy Easter to everyone as well!

  12. Hi Ellen, I am coming over from the Keep Love in Lent link up. I have heard that Michael testimony before. Perhaps it’s making another round through the blogosphere? It’s a good one and a timely one. Thanks for sharing it. I’d only hope that I could be as positive in the midst of an accident. I may have added a few prayers prior to the surgery. It doesn’t say if this man had a faith to fall back on but I’m assuming he does, his attitude is so positive that its foundation must be God. Nice “to meet you!” May God bless you and draw you close this Lenten Season!

    • Thank you, Noreen, and God bless you as well. I don’t know if it’s recirculating or not – I got it on a retreat four years ago and have had it on hand since then… I’m sure its out there in many places… I also hope there were prayers before the surgery – my own guess is there were and the story just isn’t detailed enough… I also know from my own experience from sports injuries that resulted in surgery that when you’re brought to an emergency room in a state of great pain and are really nervous/about to pass out at the same time, it can be really hard to formulate a prayer at the moment, even though in your heart, you have faith in God and really want him to help you…

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this story. We must definately choose life. For we are all going to be a “deadman” at some point in time, it made me think when Michael said “operate on me as if I’m alive!” That Jesus is like those doctors… He sees our potential and that we can live through His grace. I am so thankful for the wisdom of the church to give us methods during this time of Lent to draw closer to Him and choose to live! May God bless you and your family.

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