Wednesday, October 11 2006
"However much you improve the man's raw material, you have still got something else: the real, free choice of the man, on the material presented to him, either to put his own advantage first or to put it last. And this free choice is the only thing that morality is concerned with." Mere Christianity
Viktor Frankl was one of the great psychotherapists of the 20th century and a survivor of the Holocaust. He lived through internment in four Nazi death camps including Auschwitz, even though his parents and other members of his family died in the camps.
During, and partly because of, his suffering in the concentration camps, Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy. His approach to life and to psychotherapy was summarized in his landmark book: Man's Search for Meaning.
In that book Frankl wrote: "Everything can be taken from a man but . . . the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" (p. 104).
What a freeing thought: we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can always choose our response. I am not responsible for what happens to me--my nature given to me by genetics--or for my nurture received from parents, siblings, teachers and others. But I can choose my response to my nature, my nurture, and to all the innumerable things which happen to me every day. By God's grace through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit I can choose joy--or I can choose to succumb to my sinful nature and slink back into misery. By God's grace I can choose to obey Christ and to follow him every day . . . or not.
Father, I find this word to me today the most freeing thing in the world. Thank you that you will not judge me according to my nature or my nurture. Thank you that my life and my destiny are not determined by what happens to me, but by my response to your grace in Jesus Christ. Help me to choose life, to make the choice to rejoice, to follow you this day and every day, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.