Making a decision, especially an important life-changing decision, is a milestone in a person’s life. It marks the end of one phase, the phase of deliberation, and the beginning of another, the living out of the decision. It’s at that point that we need to find within ourselves the steely commitment that will enable us to put into practice the decision we have made. Without this kind of commitment, the whole process of decision-making may be revealed as no more than words and empty ideas.

No one can foresee the implications of the decisions we make, of course. Our lives unfold minute by minute, day by day, year by year, and the future is always an unknown quantity. Frequently, it brings with it unforeseen consequences and challenges. The greatest challenge of all is to remain true to our fundamental choices, even if the cost at times can seem almost too heavy to bear.

This level of commitment is perhaps best reflected in the well-known formula used during the celebration of marriage, when the bride and groom give themselves to each other ‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part’. No ifs or buts there – only total commitment, total self-giving, total generosity.

Of course, in the messy reality of our world, things don’t always work out as neatly as we would like. Sometimes through our own mistakes, sometimes because of factors totally outside our control, the reality falls short of our hopes and our lives begin to fragment. When we see this happening in others, it is essential that we show them compassion and understanding in their time of confusion and disappointment, supporting them in their pain. We are never in a position to judge another.

But for ourselves, as we arrive at the point of making a major choice in life, it is no help to anticipate possible future failure. On the contrary, we need to find the determination that will give us the energy to keep going on the road we have chosen, knowing that when the going gets tough God will support us very inch of the way.