The power of choice


*Photo above (L-R): Gustavo (brother-in-law), Everton (husband), Patricia, Juliana (sister), Ines (mother) and Gustavo Filho (nephew).

I praise God for His mercy. I made a careless choice without considering the consequences. And He still found a way to reach me.

Have you ever made a bad decision without considering the consequences?

Well, if you haven’t, I congratulate you. Unfortunately I wasn’t so wise. 

I grew up in a Catholic family but I don’t remember attending church as a child. Religion was more a part of my culture than a part of my life. And at that stage my family was more important to me than God.

I loved my mum and my sister but I was particularly close to my dad. He was my hero and I loved him unconditionally. Each day I couldn’t wait to get home from school so that I could spend time with him. 

Sadly, when I was in fourth grade, my parents divorced. It came as a complete shock to me. I’d never even seen them have an argument. My father found another place to live while my mum, my sister and I went to live with my grandparents. With one painful choice my world was torn apart. 

My school friends loved talking about their parents—what fun they had together, the cool adventures their fathers took them on, the family vacations they were planning. I didn’t have much to contribute. Because I had a broken family.

I started blaming my mum for the divorce and for separating me from my dad. I couldn’t accept that I had to live with the consequences of something that had been their choice. Why couldn’t my parents see that I was hurting? I wanted them to feel the pain that they had caused me.

I was only 11 years old and in Year 5. What could a little girl do that would affect her parents? I didn’t have many options but I eventually came up with an idea.

Patricia’s dad.

Mum had always stressed the importance of education. She had always been top of the class during her school years and seeing her children getting good grades never failed to make her happy. I didn’t want her to be happy anymore. I decided I would forget about studying and stop paying attention in class. My grades would slip and I would fail my exams. Maybe then Mum would notice that something was wrong.

Things went according to plan. My grades did slip. At the end of the year I failed and was told I would have to repeat Year 5. All of my friends had passed and would be continuing on to Year 6. Suddenly I realised I wouldn’t be following them. 

It was right about then that I came to understand how much my choice would cost me. Of course, Mum was really upset that I had failed. But I was the one who ultimately would be paying the higher price. I would have to study the same subjects again—and lose all my friends in the process.

I praise God for His mercy. I made a careless choice without considering the consequences. And He still found a way to reach me.

Patricia and her mum.

When I started Year 5 for the second time, I met a new student named Giannina. She was a faithful Christian girl and after a couple of weeks we became best friends. 

In April of the same year, my dad died in a car accident. Once again my world was rocked by pain, trauma and suffering. And I thought that nothing could heal me again. But I thank God for bringing Giannina into my life. She helped me to see the love of Jesus and find hope in Him.

God has always given us the power of choice. In Deuteronomy 30:19, He says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

I choose life. I choose God. What choice will you make?

Patricia Goncalves is administrative assistant for HopeChannel.