We Choose Who We Let Walk Away and Who We Let Stay

During a particularly difficult semester in college, I went to see someone at Georgetown’s Counseling Center. After a few sessions, I decided I didn’t like the advice the counselor was giving me and so cancelled my last appointment. After I did, I got a short letter from the counselor, which said, “You can lead a horse to water, but…”

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. That – to drink, the horse has to choose.

As I was driving home the other day, it occurred to me that “you can lead a horse to water…” is a different, more secular, version of something someone had posted online recently:

God determines who walks into your life….
It’s up to you to decide who you let walk away,
who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.

It is an important thing to remember. I think of all of the people God has put in my path at different times in my life. Some I have let stay, and they have been real blessing. Others, like the Georgetown counselor, who I probably could have benefitted from, I pushed away. God put them in my path, but gave me the choice whether to welcome them or reject them.

I have to remember the words in a different way as well – a way that is actually harder for me. Just as God puts people in my path, God puts me in the path of others, people who could benefit from their encounter with me. Some of those people will welcome my presence. We will grow in relationship and learn from each other, and they will benefit from my presence in their lives.

Others, however, will push me away, and when it happens, it is a really hard thing for me to accept. I need to remind myself that the fact that I think I have something to contribute to their lives doesn’t take away the fact that it is their choice whether to let me do so. I can’t force my presence on them any more than one can force a horse to drink (or any more than the Georgetown counselor could have forced me to take his advice). And I remind myself that even Jesus let the rich young man (and others) walk away from him. He always let it be their choice whether to go or stay.

God determines who walks into our lives. It is our choice who we let stay and who we push away.