Monday, August 11, 2008
Diverging Roads, Paths & Trails
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about pathways in our lives.
We were discussing how every new direction we take UNchooses all the alternate paths we might have taken. The flip side of the saying about how whenever a door closes somewhere else a window opens is that every time I OPEN a door to step through it ten others slam shut.
No matter how much I try, I cannot see around the bend. It is impossible for me to know which road will have a positive outcome and which will lead to catastrophe. For that matter, even when I am in the thick of things I can't always tell, with my finite mortal perspective, what roads are ultimately in my best interest and what ones are utter folly.
For instance...my recent work shifts are a prime example. I had a research & program development job at a college for a couple years. I liked it and was pretty good at it. Then I was asked to step up to a director position over a department that spanned several counties and had many complexities. I knew there was a lot of contention and angst in that department, so initially I said I did not want that job. The second time I was asked I STILL said I did not want that job. Eventually, however, when there was no one else readily available to take it over, I accepted the position on an interim basis with the understanding I would do it until they could find someone else to take it long term.
While I learned a lot and benefited in many ways from the six months I spent in that position, overall it was a hair-on-fire nightmare job. On some levels it seemed like I might have made a terrible mistake stepping into that role. HOWEVER...being in that job positioned me as supervisor over a particular individual who later told me about and then recommended me for the job I now have - which so far seems to be a really good fit. So, if I had not taken the WRONG path I never would have found the RIGHT path.
Tonight I went to a gathering of people and listened to a couple men speak about a ministry program in a local prison. They spoke of men who have come to Christ through the experiences they have had in being incarcerated. Clearly, the crimes they did that got them into prison were WRONG and should not have happened. Still, even in an extreme case like that, if they truly do come to terms with their choices and turn their lives around, find faith...something good can come of it.
Things that look like and feel like MISTAKES are often key lessons dressed up in the cloak of adversity.
I'm not suggesting I should jump willy nilly into irresponsible or destructive behavior just because I could learn something. But I am recognizing more all the time that I can't always see what the full outcome of my choices will be. Maybe the best I can ask for is that I use my best judgment, acknowledge I don't have the full picture, and try to stay awake to the promptings of the spirit as I go along. I want to let go of my longstanding pattern of agonizing over whether I'm headed on the "right" or the "wrong" road. Afterall, who is to say?