Power to Choose by Barbara Dan - Read Online
Power to Choose
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In this timely book, family therapist John Dan and his wife Barbara Dan share the stories of men and women who found themselves in circumstances over which, seemingly, they had little or no control, and show how they discovered the strength to move forward, using the unlimited spiritual resources of their faith. When gangs and street crime and drugs threaten to destroy our youth, when domestic abuse and senseless violence are tearing apart the fabric of society, when even the most devout Christian home isn’t safe from the effects of living in a godless society, we need a personal faith that can stand the test against all the heartbreak and overwhelming tragedy and loss. When life seems out of control, when your heart is broken beyond repair, when strength fails and seemingly there are no answers. . .you still have the POWER TO CHOOSE how to deal with .

Published: Barbara Dan on
ISBN: 9781476400037
List price: $2.99
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Power to Choose - Barbara Dan

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What Are The Choices We Really Have?


This book is not an invitation to speculation, philosophical debate, or religious theorizing. It is about choice. About living through crisis and pain.

It is written for the person who is in the throes of a potentially life-altering choice or crisis, and for those who stand at the crossroads of making a decision that may affect the way they deal with life from here on out. Or you may know someone who has been left stripped and defenseless by tragedy, and you want to understand more clearly what your friend is going through, and how to help.

This book contains example after example of men and women who have struggled with the same heartaches and heavy burdens you have, and they have won! We’re not talking about mere survival here. We’re talking about making wise decisions and choices that will not escalate or increase your pain. About allowing God to transform you and the experience (since you cannot escape it) into something more than bearable—more than tolerable. Much more, I think you will agree, as you begin to examine your options and find the power to overcome.

Dare I say it? Power to Choose is about discovery, about recognizing that you’re on a great journey: A spiritual journey lived out in a physical body amidst many given tangibles and many more unseen, but infinitely more vital issues which affect the human spirit.

Most of us view life as a lifespan, if we’re lucky, of approximately three-score-ten point six years, starting with birth and ending with death. Our conception of time is filtered through those events and experiences we perceive with the physical senses. We are influenced, quite naturally, by what we see, hear, touch, smell, ingest, and so on. In other words, the data upon which we generally rely comes from the realm of feeling, or sensation, and the emotions. Even our belief systems and view of life tend to be shaped, in large part, by our experience of the physical world around us.

However, when we limit ourselves and our perceptions only to responding out of the limitations built into us as finite beings, we leave ourselves extremely vulnerable. This is particularly true when we are blind-sided by tragedy, regardless of the form it takes. And please do not mistake my meaning when I say that none of us can escape difficulties and sorrow. With all my heart I wish we could. But since we cannot avoid pain and suffering and loss, try as we may wish to, we need to consider our options.

To do that, we need to realize that we do have choices. Not so much about what has happened to complicate our pilgrimage here on earth, but about how we will deal with life in the here and now.

Most of us have either read Shakespeare’s Hamlet or seen one of the many film versions. If we have, we may have asked ourselves how the drama would have played itself out if Hamlet had not made such a fatally flawed choice. I am not referring to his famous soliloquy, To be, or not to be, in which he toys with the idea of suicide, but with the real question: Whether he should have listened to his father’s ghost and gotten caught up in the evil and madness that raged all around him, for in doing so, he invited that same destructive spirit into his own heart, eventually bringing about even more death and destruction to everyone around him, and eventually to himself.

"Aye, that is the question." What do we believe and upon what do we base our choices? Hamlet is but one of many classic cases in literature of the downward spiral created by getting caught up in what I describe as First Order thinking in my book, Power to Change. All the great playwrights, from Aeschylus to Chekhov to Miller, have done a superlative job of portraying this destructive pattern within the human soul. Where they do not succeed is in showing us the way out of this trap, this pit of human despair.

The Holy Bible very clearly shows us the human condition. It minces no words about our alienation from God, our sinful knee-jerk reactions to life, our spiritual blundering, or our propensity to strike out in blind desperation.

Where the Bible differs from all other books on the face of the earth is in its clear message of hope. We can find our way through the maze of our pain and confusion and difficulty! God has made a way of escape, not from the fire of our afflictions, but from the fear that paralyzes and deadens and hinders our progress along life’s journey.

This book will help you explore Biblical truths and the choices that are available to you, so that you may live, not amidst the carnage on the dung heap of Golgotha, from which Christ has come to rescue you, but on the Resurrection side of life’s sorrows and trials.

But you can only do it . . . by faith!

It will not happen by relying on your own strength. This is not a do-it-yourselfers manual, but a book about making healthy choices.

As a therapist for over thirty years, I will not lie to you. No choice is healthy that does not place Christ at the absolute center of your life. You cannot overcome and emerge victorious from the crucible of life’s toughest experiences in your own strength. I have seen this proven out in countless lives, including my own and my family’s. I have seen clients in the deepest pits of despair and loneliness and grief emerge into the radiant sunlight of a new day and a new life, solely through the exercise of the power to choose . . . God.

There is no other way. I know that sounds dogmatic. Some may even accuse me of having a closed mind. I prefer to call it a settled mind. I know what works. As a trained clinical therapist and a Christian pastor, I have seen what people can do when they choose the sovereignty of God.

More important, being flesh and blood, and as frail and vulnerable as you, I have been subject to the same trials and sorrows. I have found myself part of the human experiment, no different from any of my colleagues and contemporaries. In my pain, I have reached out and grasped at solutions the world offers and fails to deliver. I have also tested the promises of God and never once found Him to fail.

Having laid out my position clearly from the beginning, I will be outlining a number of choices we have that coincide and go along with the essential choice, which has to do with your relationship with God. But first, very briefly, because tragedy and pain tend to immobilize and impale us with a sense of hopelessness, here are a few questions we need to ask ourselves:

How am I going to deal with the immediate situation? In other words, find out what needs to be done immediately, and do it. Don’t get ahead of yourself; just take care of the essentials—and that includes taking care of yourself. Avoid being judgmental. Don’t try to second-guess the situation. Rarely do you have all the facts upon sudden impact. Wait; do your homework before you act or speak out.

What is my response going to be? This question is a tough one, because it embraces the entire incident. If you or a loved one is the victim of someone else’s negligent, malicious or deliberate actions, this is an extremely difficult question to answer. There are smaller issues here that you may be able to work through on your own, but I strongly suggest contacting legal counsel and/or a skilled pastor or therapist who has the training necessary to help you work through the anger, sense of outrage, and other issues involved.

How will my decisions affect others who are also hurting? It’s hard, as the initial confusion and denial set in, but you must realize that others have also been impacted by what has occurred. Cultivate an awareness of what is going on around you. Don’t set aside your own feelings or deny the truth of what has happened. But remember: Isolating yourself from others who share your pain will only prolong it, and may cause rifts and misunderstandings that can never be mended. Reach out to one another. Don’t be afraid to show your grief. Be honest about your anger and bewilderment. Just don’t dump on others. Later on, you will regret it, even if you’re in the right. Bitterness never heals. And believe me, before you’re finished, you will need all the healing you can get. It’s essential to you; just don’t blow it.

Is there any way I can get beyond my own pain without bringing more destruction down on myself or others? In other words, can I stop the progression of destructive forces this event may have set in motion.

The answer is YES.

Make a conscious choice not to let yourself and/or your loved ones slip into a victim mindset, as a result of harm already inflicted. Enough trauma has already occurred. The job of a hospital emergency triage, for instance, is to halt further damage from occurring. Bleeding must be stopped and repairs made to the injured victim, so that healing can take place. I realize this is a clumsy analogy and not a particularly attractive one. However, the walking wounded, including those without a visible scratch on them, are no less vulnerable and hurting than those who have suffered physical injury. Victimization goes beyond physical pain, inflicting an incalculable wound upon the human spirit. This requires immediate intervention, preferably before the survivors of a tragedy are even fully aware of the ramifications of what they now face.

Being close to and directly involved with the event, you may not be in a position to assess the situation objectively. Even if you think you are, you may wish to check out your perceptions with a qualified professional. In the long run, it’s generally much more costly to undo mistakes than to seek help right away. If you see a destructive pattern of calamity and escalating pain and anger start to develop, do not delay. Seek professional help right away.

Can I find meaning in the midst of this madness? That depends on you. It depends on the choices you make. Even if you’ve made a bad beginning in the grief process, it’s not too late. You can choose to get out of the pit of despair and move on with your life. At any point on the merry-go-round of misery, you have the POWER TO CHOOSE.

This book reflects a lifetime of ministering to those who have emerged from the crucible of life’s harshest realities with a sense of certainty and victory. These are not stories without substance; they are about people who have overcome. I have yet to meet the person who is too far gone to tap into the unlimited resources of God in Christ. It’s a matter of personal choice. It’s an individual decision.

Each of us has to make up our own mind. We all have the power to choose, and the power to link up with God’s power. Choose this day, the Bible urges. What have you got to lose? Oh, but you say you’ve already lost everything. Not so, my friend. You have everything to gain by placing yourself in the strong, nail-pierced hands of Jesus.

The apostle Paul knew devastating loss, yet he was able to write, What things are gain to me, those I counted as loss for . . . the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. [Philippians 3:7-8]

Paul refers to a mystery here, only revealed to those who have entered into the