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 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?


Jen said...

This reminds me of my "dissociative dreams" post awhile back. I've been thinking about this too.

Christiane Northrup said in one of her books, that its better to choose something than to decide not to decide, and regret where you end up. I think I'm stuck in that "deciding not to decide" because I feel like I don't have enough information about the future to make an informed decision, therefore I don't want to be responsible for the result. I know I need to get past this, and take a risk, but I'm scared to. One choice means I might fail, and the other choice feels radical because while to others it would be conforming, to me it would be giving up a dream.

Ruth D~ said...

Interesting. I've come to the conclusions that life's doors are like the automatic doors at supermarkets. Just when you think you're going to break your nose, they open.

I'm not so sure we'd be any happier seeing far ahead. Think about that.

Rozel said...

I have made many bad decisions in my life and I have no desire to make anymore bad decisions. I think that is why we agonize and want to know what is behind door number one and door number two. We don’t want to suffer the consequences! I can’t tell you what is beyond the bend in the road but what I do know is our life is passing buy minute buy minute. If we always worry about the bend in the road we will worry our life away and never enjoy the gift of today. Enjoy and live for today my dear friend (I know, easier said than done)!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Very true, and very insightful.

I think the Lord is always reaching out to us with opportunities. Sometimes we might veer and take a path that isn't for the best, but He'll turn it around for our best good. We've got to learn to walk by faith, and sometimes that means, walking down a path we don't think is right but knowing that He'll cause another path to branch off from it.

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