He told the Woman:
“I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth;
you’ll give birth to your babies in pain.
You’ll want to please your husband,
but he’ll lord it over you.”
He told the Man:
“Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree
That I commanded you not to eat from,
‘Don’t eat from this tree,’
The very ground is cursed because of you;
getting food from the ground

Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife;
you’ll be working in pain all your life long.” (Gen. 3:16–17 MSG)

Choices inevitably bring consequences; it was quite a lesson for the first girl in history to learn. Sometimes it’s easy to look at others, particularly our grandmother Eve, and think that, given the opportunity, we would not have fallen for the manipulations of the enemy. And yet when it comes to our own choices, we find that thinking twice and being smart is not as easy as it may seem. Like Eve, we find ourselves tempted to respond on impulse and rush headlong into a devastating decision. “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions” (1 John 2:16).

Our cravings and our pride make good choices difficult, especially if we haven’t decided ahead of time what principles will guide our decision-making process. It’s hard to choose against eating that luscious piece of cake even though we know it will undermine our attempts to slim down. It’s hard to put that darling outfit back on the store hanger when it fits perfectly but is out of our price range. And it’s hard to say no to a great job offer that strokes the ego even when we know it would take us away during a time when our kids and husbands need us. That’s why the second thought, that deeper consideration of potential consequences, is so crucial to making the best choices possible. As the master seamstress reminds her student, “Measure twice, cut once!” Choice without regret is a wonderful thing.

Compound Interest and Poor Choices

When it comes to choices, we have to be aware of the principle of compound interest. As with a successful investment, each positive choice you make increases your capital as a Smart Girl and puts you in a better position to make future choices. By contrast, every poor choice, like an ever-growing debt, accrues interest that must be paid.

Shannon knows this better than most. As an idealistic fifteen-year-old, she thought she knew everything. She knew she loved Jim, who was twenty, but she also knew her parents wouldn’t let her get married. She believed that if she slept with him, he would stay around until she was old enough to marry. She didn’t factor in the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Eventually a strange pain down one leg and flu-like symptoms prompted a visit to her doctor. When he a said, “You have herpes simplex virus,” her teenage mind couldn’t understand what that meant. So the doctor told her the painful truth about how she’d become infected and the lack of a cure. She knew something was terribly wrong, but she had no idea then how it would affect her life. She stopped seeing Jim, disgusted with herself and disgusted with him. He tucked tail and willingly ran, but she was left with the consequences.

Now at age thirty Shannon knows all too well the effects of her choice because she’s still paying compound interest on the consequences of sleeping with Jim. She’s had several herpes outbreaks over the years since her diagnosis although they have become less severe. She grew up, went off to college, and became a successful marketing executive with a large firm.

Then a year or so ago she met the love of her life at church. Eric is handsome and godly. He treats her like a queen, and she adores him. They’re talking about marriage, but she knows that before she can say yes, she will have to face up to telling him about her past choice and the resulting consequences. She’ll have to say, “I’d love to marry you, but you need to know that I have a sexually transmitted disease that can affect you.” It feels overwhelming, and Shannon is torn about what to do. What will Eric think? Is he going to want to have “protected” sex for the rest of their married lives? Will he want her to carry his children? Should she tell him that any children born to her will need to be specially protected during birth to prevent them from contracting her disease? Since she hasn’t had an outbreak in a couple of years, is it safe not to tell him and just hope for the best? What would she do if he found out? What would she do if she infected him?