A Weekly Column
Joseph Walker


She was radiant – absolutely radiant – as she sat across the desk from me.

And not just because she was lovely – which she was, with her thick, long, chestnut hair, her dazzling brown eyes and a smile that would warm the cold heart of an investment banker.  It was also because she was deeply in love with an outstanding young man who had asked her to marry him, and she had joyfully accepted.

And everybody knows there is nothing more radiant than young love.

She was telling me about her wedding plans, which were just in the formulative stages at that point, when the hint of a frown passed over her face.

“What’s this?” I asked, half-jokingly.  “Trouble in paradise?”

She squirmed a little.

“Not really,” she said.  “Well, OK . . . sort of.  I mean, not really trouble.  Just...”

Her voice trailed off, and I found myself wishing that I hadn’t asked.  But we had been friends for a long time.  I was a lay leader in her church congregation, and she and I had spoken many times about her life – her troubled past, her amazing journey to self-respect and her dreams and hopes for the future.  I had tremendous respect for the changes she had made to bring herself to this happy point, and she knew that I loved her.  No matter what.

“I’ve told you about the bad choices I made when I was a teenager,” she said, hesitantly.

“Of course,” I said.  I thought I could see where she was going with this.  “But those days are behind you.  You’re a different person now.  Surely he understands that.”

“Oh, he does,” she said.  “That isn’t the problem.  It’s just . . . sometime during those years I . . . well, I made a mistake that is still with me, and will be with me for the rest of my life.”

I guess I looked puzzled, because she smiled and shook her head.  “You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?” she asked.

“Well . . . not exactly . . .”

“A disease,” she said, simply.  “One that is transmitted through... you know...”

I nodded.  “OK,” I said.  “I get it.  The question is: does he know?”

“I just told him, and he was great about it,” she said.  “That isn’t the problem.  It’s just . . . I wish so much . . . I hate that dealing with this is going to have to be part of our marriage.  It will always be with us, like this constant reminder of what a . . . what a fool I was.  I would give anything to not have this in our lives right now.  Absolutely anything.”

She sighed a heartfelt sigh, and looked at the diamond ring on her finger.  Then she almost whispered: “What was I thinking?”

The problem is, back then she wasn’t thinking – at least not about marriage or children or how she would feel breaking this news to her beloved husband-to-be.  To tell the truth, she wasn’t thinking much, period.  None of us do when we make those dumb decisions that so many of us make at one time or another in our lives.

The right to make choices is a wondrous thing. It is a right to be cherished and embraced.  But as a number of well-known people have been so painfully and publicly reminded recently, we must never forget that while we can choose our actions, we can’t choose the consequences of our actions – now, or years later.  Consequences happen.

No matter how radiant we may be.

# # #

— © Joseph Walker

E-mail Joseph  

For more ValueSpeak, please visit

* * * CHECK OUT Joseph Walker’s LATest bookS! * * *

Click to find out more or order your copy of these uplifting collections:

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!