Lo and behold my kids have discovered the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series - and they are loving it. About a day into reading the one book we own (yes, I'll get more), my 9 year old son says, "Hey! Life is like a choose your own adventure!" I was just blown away by that epiphany. He is totally correct.
However, in the books it is very clear when you have to make a decision. At the bottom of the page it gives you your choices.
"If you decide to run for it through the back door of the house, turn to page 40.
If you decide to wait where you are and prepare to defend yourselves, turn to page 30."
Funny enough, life never clearly points out those important "choice" moments.
A car just cut you off in traffic, leaving you at a red light. Should you-
a. Run the red light, so you can catch the perpetrator and give him a piece of your mind.
b. Stop at the red light, breathe deeply and carry on with your trip.
c. Stop at the red light, and give the jerk a piece of your mind anyway.
d. Be aware of your children in the backseat who will hear your rants about lousy bleeping drivers.
Every choice we make, whether big or small fills in the puzzle pieces that make us human beings. The trick is to be aware of those "choice" moments - and choose correctly as best we can. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler talks about these choice points, that real free will happens when there is a conflict in how we would approach a choice.
For example - I don't have issues with murder. Do I have free will in that topic, no, because that's really not an issue for me. I do, however, have issues with losing my temper. That is a very real issue for me. So when one of my kids spills the entire jug of milk on the floor when trying to pour themselves a glass of milk - this will hit my "choice" moment. Do I freak out at the kid who really feels bad enough or keep my calm and clean it up? If I keep my calm, then I conquered that choice and established a precedent for next time (don't worry, there will be a next time) - and my "choice" moment moves forward. The idea is to keep growing and creating a better You.
Judaism is about using the Mitzvot to create a better You, a better You who will create a world that G-d wants to be a part of.
Let's recognize our choices in our own personal Choose Your Own Adventure book of life and see how we can move our "choice" moments forward.
Have a great week!