One of God’s gifts to us is free will. We have free will to decide what our attitude will be and what road we will choose to take along the way. One of the first decisions we can make is that we will live in the moment. That every decision we make will affect our future. It’s the decisions we make, not the condition of our lives, that determine our destiny.

There are times when circumstances are out of our control. But the way we respond will determine the road we will take and the attitude we will have along the way.

What comes to my mind is a good friend of my daughter, Dawn; her name is Desiree. She spent a lot of time at my house, as did all of my daughter’s friends. What stood out to me about Desiree is her natural beauty and her free spirit and passion for life. Dawn and Desiree remained good friends all through their school years, and their friendship continued when they each got married and had children of their own.

In her 20s, Desiree was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and it came in the form of the most debilitating kind; some are not as severe, but Desiree’s diagnosis was the most severe.

This certainly wasn’t something she chose to have in her life, but the decisions she made after the diagnosis determined the quality of life she would have.

At the time of her diagnosis, I led a Bible study, which I invited her to attend. My first concern was that she would know what it was to be born again and that she could live a life rooted and grounded in Christ so she would know where her strength came from, and to this day her life is rooted in faith, prayer, and an intimate dependency on God.

She now lives down south, but I remember those early years so well when she was first diagnosed. I remember how difficult it was as she was making the adjustment that was needed; she saw changes occurring in her body. Although she had no control over the circumstances in her life, she did have control over her attitude and the decisions and choices she made on a daily basis.

She chose to find strength through her faith and to fight the fear of the unknown and of becoming a burden to others. She could have easily pushed her friends away and become a recluse wallowing in self-pity. It had to have been difficult to see her friends living in good health, being vibrant mothers and wives to their husbands. But she rose above it by the decisions she made to pray and to reach out not only to her family but to her friends. And to this day, she is surrounded by faithful friends, including my daughter.

In fact, just recently, my daughter Dawn, Michelle, and Chris (Chris is a member of our church family at Every Nation) made a trip to Virginia to visit her. To this day, they are still best friends, and there are many others who are great friends to this beautiful woman.

It’s important we remember that it’s the decisions we make, not the conditions of our lives, that determine the quality of life we will have, and because of that decision, she lived the highest quality of life she could possibly live under the circumstances.

The book of Proverbs is filled with words of wisdom to live our lives. This beautiful woman’s life is an example of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Desiree made the decision to live her life to the fullest. She knew in order to do that, she needed to totally trust in God and most definitely not lean on her own understanding, or she could have gone through life filled with self-pity, asking again and again, “Why me, God?” Instead, she is a shining example of a woman who may not understand why. However, she is such a beautiful example of someone who embraces God on a daily basis and truly loves God with all her heart, her soul, and her mind.