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Survival lies in your choices

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

Mrs. Alida Sharp is a 57-year-old, Christian missionary who lives in Belize. I began following her life story when we connected through a writers’ group for women of color. She has an amazing testimony of how her relationship with the Lord, specifically learning to listen to His voice, has transformed her life time after time. She and her husband, Tom, are both creatives. He is a painter and she is a worship leader, author and recording artist. They use their gifts to minister hope to the lost and hurting. We have never met, yet I consider her to be one of my influencers. I love how she is aging with such grace. Older women who have that vivid grace about them inspire me. I pay attention to shereos of the faith like her. I want that grace in my life.

In every other blog or Instagram post, Mrs. Alida mentions something about how change comes when choices are made. Recently, she posted a photo of herself standing next to a graph she took from the activity profile on her MyFitnessPal app. The graph showed her weight changes over the past six years. In the caption for the picture, she stated, “My fitness journey has not been and is not now a perfect straight line but transformation has still occurred because I haven’t given up.”

I looked at that jagged line on her graph and I thought about the character within the bends and breaks and peaks of that line. That line spans six years of narrative and milestones.

Mrs. Alida’s graph is not an example of “I got the weight off and kept it off.” I noticed only one plateau or level line in the graph and it was very small, which tells me that there was a very short period in which there was little or no change in her fitness journey. I suspect that was a short period when Mrs. Alida was likely not checking into her app. But as she confessed in her caption, transformation still occurred. Whether the evidence was recorded or not, the line was still taking shape.

The jagged line graph reminded me of a heart rate monitor. It is said that the heartbeat is the symbol of life. When a child is conceived in the womb, the first sound that brings joy to the parents of the unborn child is the thumping of that heart in an ultrasound monitor. Furthermore, connection between heart rate and life is found in the relationship between the resting heart rate and survival. Medical research into this inverse relationship between heart rate and lifespan suggests that healthy choices such as exercise and reduced stress affords a human being the ability to live long.

Inasmuch as the heartbeat indicates the existence of life, I believe we can say that our choices throughout our lives indicate survival outcomes. As we all know, when you are looking at a heart rate monitor, a plateau line is not an indication that we want to see. Flat lines mean death. If we are not making choices, we are not living. Our choices demonstrate the activity, the vigor and the energy in our living. Choices activate progress and transformation. Every choice we make lands up or down on our biographical timeline. Whether we are monitoring weight highs and lows or career high and lows or emotional highs and lows, we all have a jagged line that tells our story. Here’s the catch. We want the jagged line to progress forward.

To ensure that survival happens as a result of our choices, we have to make good ones.

I believe our Bible confirms that choice is the heartbeat of survival. How willing we are to exercise progress and transformation daily will lead us to eternal life, which is the ultimate survival. Deuteronomy 30:19 reminds us that we have the power of choice for a great purpose. “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live!”

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that everyone has the power to shape the graph up or down. Our choices are the evidence of the transformation. Choose well so that you and your children may live.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.