I read an interview with director James Cameron right after Titanic came out where he mentioned that he’d written the entire movie in order to get to the central scene between Jack and Rose on the prow of the ship
“Jack, I’m flying!”
The whole movie more or less hinges on that moment, because the story really isn’t about the sinking. Ostensibly, it’s a love story, and a more modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet—or at least on the central theme of it. But really, I think, it’s about several people’s decisions, and the consequences those decisions have on their lives.
And let’s look at Romeo & Juliet, since I mentioned it. There’s a scene where Romeo is comforting Mercutio after his diatribe/discourse on Queen Mab
“Peace, good Mercutio. Thou talkst of nothing.”
and after that, he and his friends are talking about going to the party at the Capulet’s. There’ll be food there, and probably some girls. At that point in the story, Romeo is still pining away after Rosalind, and his friends are trying to get him to go to get his mind off things, and possibly even find someone else
“if love be rough with you, be rough with love…”
Romeo considers, and even though he has second thoughts
“my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars”
he ultimately goes. We all know what happens after that.
Of course, these are both ridiculously over-dramatized examples, but they well illustrate the point that our lives are deeply affected by the decisions we make. In fact, I’ve heard it said that we are the decisions we make. I think what that means is that our lives can be profoundly affected by a single decision, whether good or bad. Lives can change in a second, and in most cases, you don’t get another chance to make the right decision if you make it wrong the first time.
This is something I’ve done badly for most of my life, to disastrous consequences each time.
While of course I can’t speak for everyone, my downfall seems to be that I often act depending on how I’m feeling at that moment, without considering that I might soon feel differently, or without seeking counsel from someone else. I don’t really consider myself and impulsive person, and probably I’m much less impulsive now that I’ve gotten married and grown up a little (I guess you’d have to ask my wife how much—might not be as much as I think. I do still love potty humor), but there was a time not long ago when that wasn’t the case.
There was a catch phrase a while back, and you saw it everywhere—on bumper stickers, ties, signs, t-shirts, etc—WWJD. What would Jesus Do?
What would Jesus do?
That’s the hard part. When I think about that now, I take from it that if you’re a Christian, you need to involve Jesus in your life on more than just Sunday. You need to ask Him what he thinks about whatever you’re planning on doing. Ask him what He would have you do in a given situation. You won’t always receive a pointed direction, but sometimes the lack of a response is all the direction you need.
But this is not as easy as it seems.
Our tendency, one would imagine, is toward self-gratification much of the time, even as Christians. What’s best for me. What do I want to do? That kind of thing.
While I can’t speak for everyone, of course, this type of thinking has really led me to some wretched decisions. In regard to living situations, and credit, money, and also in the few relationships I’ve been involved in, both as a youth and an adult.
I think of one situation in particular, and what makes it worse is that I actually did ask someone what they thought in regard to the situation, and I suppose I even knew what God would want from me. I just didn’t listen. I wanted what I wanted, and who I wanted.
Just before Valentine’s day a little less than six years ago, a girl I was very much interested in, and had been flirting with (it had began lightly, but had developed into something of a more serious nature), thought it would be a good idea to have a Valentine’s day party, and all the single people amongst our group of friends (we all worked together) would attend. She had just become single herself—separated from her husband—and I’m ashamed to say I had a part in that, as well. I knew her marriage was in trouble, and I knew all about the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God. I didn’t care. I could rationalize my behavior because her husband was a jerk, and I deserved some happiness, damn it. And that February, since I was the only one who had my own apartment, the decision was made to have the party at my place.
This girl wasn’t a Christian, and I knew on several levels that pursuing a relationship of any sort with her would be a colossally bad idea. But she was beautiful, and seemed to like me, and I fell for her. So I decided to pursue her, even though my closest friend (who was a Christian) advised me it was a bad idea, and dangerous to my walk. She was right.
And then there came a point in the evening when it was very late and everyone was leaving. The girl and a couple more friends were still there and I remember them standing by the door and her looking back at me. “You guys go ahead,” she said. “I’m gonna hang around for a while. I’ll talk to you later.”
I didn’t even think about the consequences. I could’ve done a lot of things. I could’ve said I was tired. I could’ve said, “See you later.” I could’ve not had the party at all. But I did none of those things. I just went with the easy choice. And it took years to recover from it. I actually don’t think I fully healed from that situation until I met my wife to be, and discovered what it meant to be in a relationship that was blessed by God.
I guess my point in all this is mostly just figuring my own stuff out, or trying to. But I think I realize now that even if you don’t know God, it’s always a bad idea to go and do something just because, as the saying goes, “it seems like a good idea at the time.” Trust me. It isn’t.
Think about it, for at least a second or two. Think before you speak, and definitely think before you act. Before you buy that car, or that expensive whatever-it-is. Think. Ask someone close to you that you trust what they think, and at least consider their advice before you do anything. Sometimes cooling off will give you some much needed perspective, and sometimes that’s all you need to keep you from throwing a monkey into your life. I have, as they say, learned the hard way. I’ve made horrible financial decisions, and relationship decisions, even bad educational decisions.
And suffered the consequences. I’m actually still suffering the consequences for many of those choices if you take our present living situation into consideration. Which also means that those bad decisions I made before I even met my wife affected her as well—and my stepson.
If you do know God, then you need to pray about things before you do them, even if it’s only a quick prayer. It’s still a direct line to the most wisdom a person could ever get.
There’s another saying that also applies. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Also true.
Anyway, now I try to do the right thing as much as I can, what is right before God. I think about what things will mean to God before I do them (at least I try to–though it isn’t always easy). It might even be that I consider too much before I act, what Pastor Mike would call the “paralysis of analysis.” But anyway. Now I have people in my life that I can go to with difficult things, people that will hold my impulsive, dumb-ass self accountable. I am fortunate enough to have people in several states that actually care about me enough to try and keep me from jacking up my life any more. I will do my best to listen to them…