‘No other choice’
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
Four days out of the week, you can find me sitting beside my first-grader halfway listening in on his virtual class.
You’d be surprised how looking into the window of a first-grade learning environment creates interesting musings. I sit there mostly for my own convenience, because I need to know what he is assigned to do, and because without me sitting there, he lacks the discipline to sit and pay attention.
Recently, they were given a research assignment in which they could select any animal to use for a writing topic. Mrs. Mary Coombs showed the children a video presentation that must have listed 30 or more possible animals they could choose. To demonstrate the instructions that they were asked to follow, Mrs. Coombs used an owl for her writing sample. After she finished sharing her instructions, she asked if anyone had questions. One of the children responded, “Well Mrs. Coombs, I had no other choice but to choose an owl.”
There was an awkward silence on the Zoom call. To my knowledge, she never told the children that they had to choose the owl. How had he determined that he had “no other choice” considering all the possibilities presented to him? Maybe he understood something about choice that we did not.
I gathered a bit of wisdom out of the mouth of this babe. There is a lesson that I wish to share from my window into a first-grader’s world.
Since the election this year, I have thought a great deal about the freedoms and rights that we are at liberty to exercise in the United States. I have also thought a great deal about the history of this nation that once denied and to some extent still denies its inhabitants the freedoms of choice. There are many, many examples and stories of decisions made because people generally believe that they have no choice or they are forced to do something because the choice is not theirs to make or there are few appealing options to choose from.
Some say every choice is not so serious that we should weigh them so heavily. Moreover, the choices we make dictate what we believe about freedom and particularly free will. How well do you choose for yourself? Do you understand why we have been given this power to decide of our own will and of our own choosing?
I find it remarkable and precious that our creator actually gave us the freedom to choose. All powerful as He is, he is not a dictator who insists that we follow His rule or else. He consults with us and allows us to make up our own minds whether we want the same things that He wants for us. To invite God into our decision-making is practical. Believers should seek God’s guidance in all things. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Much like what the first-grader demonstrated in his selection of the same animal that his teacher selected for her paper, if you follow what the teacher chose, how can you go wrong? The Bible is our writing sample. We get to decide whether to follow where the teacher leads us or to choose for ourselves. When God shows you what His choice would be, is there any other possibility that you need to consider?
That is a pretty insightful first-grader, if you ask me.
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.