Choices…we all have them. In our personal lives we accept that there are natural responses to the choices we make. You know, the yin and the yang of life. If I eat an apple I’ll feel better than if I eat a cheesecake – yes, the whole thing. (Although, there are definitely times when the cheesecake seems like the better option…particularly, when the complexities of life have taken hold of my better judgement!) Choices.

Then, there are the big-deal choices we hear about in the media. What power source is the right one? How do governments make the choice to promote one source over the other? Can we look at only the desired result – energy without byproduct. Or, do we need to look at how the energy source is developed, transported and implemented? And, are there hidden unfavorable results once the system is in place? For example, once in place, wind energy seems innocuous. Yet, wind energy farms have changed the migratory patterns of some species of birds. Will this ultimately affect the ecosystem they – and we – live in? Like, will certain bugs proliferate when they cease to be a favored avian entre? Will the birds themselves begin to die off as their deeply patterned lives are disrupted? Choices.

Everyday we are faced with choices. Should I get up early or sleep in? Do I go to work or call in sick? Show up at the gym or read a book? Change the sheets on the bed or simply pull up the comforter? Leave the comforter where it is and worry about it later? Buy the organic milk at a premium price or go for the milk on sale? Forget the milk and buy ice cream?

The thing is, how do we decide what choices to make? Some are easy, right? They are simply the ‘right’ thing to do. But, how do we decide what is ‘right’? We can rely on our culture to guide us to the responsible choice. Yet, how does that explain atrocities like slavery; holocausts; and discrimination against skin tone, gender and sexual orientation? 

Our religious beliefs can be a guide, although we can fall into traps here as well. Does our faith structure guide us toward love and acceptance of others? Or, do we have a list of standards we use to judge whether or not someone is ‘worthy’ of our compassion? 

When we read the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-41), we enter into God’s world to learn something about love. Jesus shows us what it looks like to have compassion for another – to see need without judgement. We see a woman – an insignificant female – who has been deemed unworthy by a community that is considered by another group to be vile. It doesn’t get much lower than that!  But, Jesus sees her value as God’s beautiful creation in spite of who she has become as the result of choices made by her and the environment she lives in.

Let’s think about this one, how much sense does it make for community living in a culture that treats them as inferiors to, in turn, discriminate against another group of people because they are different? I mean, where is God’s message to us in this scenario? This is nothing but a caste system of exclusivity. You’re either part of our ‘in’ group, or you’re not worthy of our time. 

Who doesn’t love the story of the woman at the well? We can all resonate with parts of it. We have all been her in some form…a clique we can’t break into, a boss who demoralizes instead of mentors…choices.

Some of our choices are the right things for the wrong reasons and vice versa. It gets complicated with the demands of our culture and our religious structures. Yet, Jesus never seemed to get caught up in the rules. His example of life showed us that to live as fully as we were created to live is to simply see; to love the hopes and dreams and good in others; and to have compassion without judgement. Pure…uncomplicated by expectations…based in love for God and therefore God’s creation…based in love for others as part of God’s beautiful and diverse creation…singleness of heart…simple…choices…

I read a book this summer that made the statement, “God doesn’t really care what you do, God cares why you do it.” Choices…every moment of every day. How will you make yours?