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All around us there are things that are completely out of our control. I cannot change the past. I cannot change my children’s minds or make them into the people I hoped they would grow to be. I cannot end the pandemic that rages on, nor can I calm the fears that plague. Because there are so many things out of my control, what can I do? What can we do to help lift the burdens that abound? We can use the one thing that is truly and individually only ours. We can use our power to choose. I can choose whether I will be a victim to each problem I face or whether I will choose to find victory.

A large part of the human experience is wrapped up in the relationships we form with other people. We build friendships, have acquaintances, fall in love, build families, raise children, teach and learn from each other as we go. This is part of what makes life so wonderful, but it is also part of what makes life so hard. It is wonderful when those relationships help us to be better people, when the people we love treat us well, when we’re able to trust and live free of fear, when we see that we matter to others. It is hard when people we thought we could trust betray, harm, threaten, or disappoint. In all of these relationships, as much as we would like to, we can really only work to influence by our own actions and attitudes. Sometimes that means that we have to choose to end a relationship because it is not a safe environment for ourselves or our children. Most of the time, when it isn’t a matter of safety, and when it is mostly a matter of unmet expectations, it is best for us to step back, reassess our expectations, recognize what really matters, and choose to just love. Let go of trying to control and change the people we have these relationships with, and just give them the unconditional love that we crave for ourselves.

There is also harm that can come from people we don’t even know or the effect of history or institutions that we have no control over. What can we do then? We can choose to focus on our victimhood, or we can choose to focus on improving the situations. We can listen to each other and share positive solutions. We can reach out to those who need our help and give assistance to those we can.

It may not be an easy thing to choose to be positive or to choose to love. But anyone who has achieved anything great would tell you that easy is not what brings greatness. Choosing to be thoughtful and intentional with our words and actions will help us to overcome challenges we face. Small everyday choices lead to character and actions that can build or destroy. In every circumstance, we can choose whether to be a victim, or to find victory.

Photo credit: Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash