by Melissa Labieniec
Decisions. Let’s talk about decisions and how they affect our lives. How they not only affect us directly, but all the people around us.
Have you ever noticed how a ripple in the water starts off small, growing wider and wider as it goes? Decisions are like that. They start with a single choice and the ripple effect from it grows out wide and far, touching not only us but all the other aspects of our lives, including the people who surround us.
I grew up in a household which didn’t serve the Lord. I had good parents who did what they could, but they had me and my siblings at a very young age. My childhood has many good memories, but for the most part, I remember feeling and sensing from an early age that the core stability and security that a strong family possesses were something mine was lacking.
My parents were always around, but it was during a time in their lives when they should have been focusing on fixing their own hurts, much less having to raise a family of three young children. It must have been very difficult for an extremely young couple comprised of two individuals still each in their own formative years of life. I felt and knew my parents were struggling financially, emotionally and otherwise. The long and short of it is this: They partied a lot. They fought a lot.
It wasn’t that way day-in-and-day-out, but even when things were better, it just didn’t feel like a completely secure and healthy functioning family. I knew it and it bothered me. I suffered because of it. I knew we were nothing like the average all-American family like my peers at school.
Today, I realize they did the best that they could with what they had and what they knew. They really tried, especially as we grew older. Of course, they loved us. I understand things could have been so much worse. Today, I am thankful for my parents and how they loved us despite their own damaged childhoods. I cherish them so much and my intentions aren’t to throw stones or drag their names through the mud. However, things are what they are, and I can’t change the past. That WAS my childhood, take it or leave it.
Fast forward to my teenage and young adult years– I started to follow exactly in their footsteps. I began to do all the things I saw my parents do when they were my age. I can honestly say, I didn’t know a whole lot better. I didn’t have a concrete and lasting moral compass. We didn’t go to church and we didn’t believe in God. Since my parents were still very young, it didn’t stop them, in many ways, to live the rebellious teenage and young adult lifestyle. Neither of them were raised as Christians. In my mind, it was okay to drink, party and throw caution to the wind because that was what I had as an example and family history.
They didn’t encourage me to do these things, but they had never really told me not to. So, I just did whatever I wanted. They punished me here and there for crossing lines, but for the most part I don’t believe they understood the extent of my partying because I was good at hiding it when I needed to. What they did know, they didn’t really ever tell me was wrong. I am not saying these things never “felt” wrong, because at times they did, but to me it was just the way things were, however wrong or right they seemed. I just went with it. In a sense, it was just who I was.
Before long, I was in over my head. I was in a terrible place and became the definition of a daughter most parents would dread having. Alcohol dependence took over my life. Bad grades were my normal. Not choosing the right friends, or the right boyfriends, was a hobby of mine. None of it subsided over time, and, no, I didn’t grow out of it. In fact, all it did was get worse and lead to dark depressions, hospital stays, and things I don’t like to talk about today. Let’s just say, I’m rather blessed to be alive and doing so well!
I took after them, and then some. To top it all off, I even had a child young like they did, but that is another story for another time.
Even though it was my decision and my mistake after mistake, the Lord knew all. HE HAD A PLAN. He was moving mightily before I even had my daughter. This next part seemed awful at the time, but it turned out great. My Mom had reached a breaking point. After experiencing some difficulties with my dad (they separated for a while) and enduring the pain of a troubled teen, she had hit rock bottom in her own life and started searching. She happened to find my current church and the Lord. She was saved. My dad was next.
Something about them changed drastically and immediately! They were literally like new creations. They had a new marriage. I took notice of the healing power of Christ, and not too long after I began attending church regularly myself. My parents becoming saved ultimately led to me becoming saved. That was when things were starting to look up for me. I even met my husband at church and the rest is history!
Decisions are like ripples. One little choice can affect your life and the people who surround you. My parents’ choices when they were young led to me having a shaky childhood with little stability, eventually leading me to make my own stupid decisions as I grew up. The ripple effect that occurred from my parents having kids young and unprepared had spread far and wide. It reached their children, ME… and it even reached my daughter. Because of my own bad choices, she deals with issues of her own with her biological father to this day.
It has been far-reaching, indeed. But just like bad decisions reach far and wide, so do good decisions. My mom, who reached out to the Lord when I was pregnant, had a much greater and farther-reaching ripple effect that only God could have orchestrated. I was headed to a worse position than my parents ever found themselves in. I was in a dark place, about to end up as a family with a guy who has been in and out of jail. Instead, that one choice my mother made to accept Jesus into her heart had the widest ripple yet, and that ripple is still growing.
Because my mother was praying for my baby (before she was born) and I right after she accepted Christ into her heart, I ended the disastrous and rather dangerous relationship, got saved myself, and met a wonderful guy in church who treats my daughter like his own.
What a wide and far-reaching ripple this one is turning out to be! The ripple my mom started is now touching whoever reads this. What an amazing concept.
If my mom hadn’t decided to search for Jesus when I was pregnant, I’m not sure where I would be today. That is a part of the old ripple I do not like to think about. Maybe you, too, up to this point in your life, don’t like to think about an awful ripple in your life that was likely started before you were even born. Maybe you don’t like to think about where it took you and where it may lead, but you don’t have to live affected by someone else’s decisions anymore. You don’t have to live affected by yours either. It’s never too late. Just like my mom started a NEW ripple, so can you! Start today. Decide today, with the Lord, to start a new ripple in your life. Thank you for being a part of mine!
Melissa is an enthusiastic blogger and writer. She enjoys spreading God’s love whenever she can. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Leadership and Ministry, with a concentration in Human Services. A Christian for just over 20 years, she resides in Connecticut with her wonderful husband and two daughters.