in my living room: choices

One of my favorite times of the week is our Wednesday House of Refuge group that gathers at our house. A fun, open group, it’s been going since the beginning of The Refuge, almost 9 years now, and it’s always one of the most interesting times of my week. We have a potluck, and it’s wild and chaotic, with kids running to and fro and people eating and laughing and catching up. After dinner, the kids go downstairs and the grownups participate in spiritual conversation, which I always call “Spiritual Show and Tell.” Different people sign up at the beginning of the year to facilitate so it’s an amazing variety of perspectives and topics and styles and conversations.

I have written about a few nights before and called them “in my living room” (I always have high hopes to share more of these but like so many other things I never get around to it). However, a few weeks ago it was a cold and blizzardy Colorado night. Our group was small, we started late, but it turned out to be one of the greatest little tools I have learned in a long time, so I thought I’d toss out my takeaway.

My friend shared briefly about the idea of choice and how she was learning to reframe how she viewed parts of her life. Some of these ideas are an extension of Non-Violent Communication (one of my favorite skills from 2014 that I always wish I applied, ha ha).

We all have choices.

And we make choices based on what we value.

And there are consequences for those choices.

The tool was simple: My friend asked us to consider some areas of our lives where we were making a sacrifice or hard choices or in a difficult situation and fill in the blank:

I choose to __________

because I value ______________

even if it means _________________

This can cross so many areas of our lives–relationships, work, faith, life, family, play.

We make choices, positive and negative ones, because of what we value, and there are consequences, both positive and negative ones, based on those choices.

For me, the best place to start is to consider an area where I struggle, which feels tricky, difficult, and is causing me the most confusion or strife.

How can I reframe it in a way that helps free me instead of trap me?

A few came to mind:

I choose to dedicate myself to filling our lives with lots of adventure, fun, and busyness with our kids and friends because I value connection and living-in-the-now, even if it means my house is messy and unorganized and I don’t have a lot of white space in our week.

I choose to be part of co-leading our crazy community, The Refuge, with my friends even though some days it’s brutally hard and tiring and I want to run for the hills because I value collaboration and healing community and kingdom-living, even it if means sacrificing efficiency and money and so many of the ways “I would do it” if I was all by myself.

I choose to walk a path of faith toward greater mystery, and freedom, and diversity because I value growth, integrity, and honesty, even if it means that I don’t fit into some traditional Christian systems anymore and experience disapproval or feel like an outsider.

I choose to truly honor the budget that Jose and I put together and said we’d follow because I value and respect him as my teammate and partner, even if it means that I have to give up what I would do (yes, spend whatever I want and run us into the ground financially!).

Oh, there are so many more, and these are just my rambles for today, and I am quite sure there are many deeper ones I need to keep exploring.

I wanted to share it with you all because if you are like me, sometimes it helps to have some help.

For me, some of the most simple ideas provide me with the best shifts.

We processed it at our advocates training, too, and I loved the thoughts on how it can be helpful when trying to untangle reality and how we can respond to it.

As a person who sometimes feels “trapped” by my life, by my kids, by The Refuge craziness, by all-kinds-of-things-that-make-me-feel-like-I-am-stuck, part of my healing has been remembering that I do, indeed, always have choices. I may feel trapped, but I am not trapped.

What are you choosing because you value it and what are the consequences?

Or what choice do you need to make and own the consequences?

I know I have a lot to keep thinking about, both current choices and ones I know I need to make.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


ps: I also have a new post up this week for SheLoves Magazine, for the Down We Go column I write there (love those people!). It’s called Small is Plenty.  I personally choose to not focus on growing The Refuge in numbers the way churches normally do because I value real-and-raw-and-long-term-in-the-flesh-relationships, even if it means we look weird & awkward & inefficient.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • I love this. I’ve recently been taking the risk of becoming more deeply involved with a church, and it’s helpful to articulate the both the risk and the benefit. Thank you.

  • I really like the 3-part statement structure. The parts are all good and just the act of stating clearly (in writing and/or memorized) one’s choices, reasons and effects helps make us more intentional – an important thing!

    I also like being intentional about not trying to grow numerically just to be larger. On the other hand, I’ve known church people to not want to add others or get larger because it would disrupt their comfort zone… not a suitable motive in my view (and not yours, I know).

  • Kathy, this is so good. I read Nonviolent Communication last year… Wow (now if only I was better at putting it into practice). I’ve spent so much of my life feeling trapped. This past year I’ve invested a lot of time into discovering my core values and I realized how many of my actions and decisions went in alignment with what I truly value. What a wonderful tool for reframing our decisions! Thank you for sharing.

    • that is so me, too, i love NVC but goodness, it’s hard to come back to that basic skill and really, really practice it. thank you for sharing!


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