The J O U R N E Y. Part One.

Let’s face it. Life is a messy thing. There is no manual titled The One Way to Do Life Right. Oh, how I wish there was! I am at a different spot in life than many of my friends, relatives, and coworkers. I’m at a completely different spot in life than I was just six months ago. Sometimes I feel frustrated. Sometimes I feel joy. Sometimes I feel like a conqueror. Other times I feel as if life is kicking me in the backside.

Have you been there, too?

It was in a discussion I was having just this past weekend that it dawned on me. . .

Life is a J O U R N E Y. 

Part One. Reflection of the Journey.

Life is a J O U R N E Y. Each life represents a unique journey. There are no duplicate journeys, but there are similar ones. There are certain stops along the journey, but there are no required or marked pathways from one stop to the next.

Sometimes our journey feels like a road-trip or vacation. It’s “smooth sailing” for a day, a week, and – if we are a lucky – a year! Other times, though, our journey seems like a never-ending expedition past places we did not intend or ever wish to go.

You see, where I started my journey is simply not the same as the start of your journey. We were each born into a different home, a different family. Our journeys have been shaped by different people and past experiences.

We have each observed and felt happiness, acceptance, and freedom. We, too, have experienced loss, rejection, and heartache. But, the memories I tie to each of these emotions are completely different than the ones you tie them to.

As I take a little time to glance back on the different spots I have visited on my journey, my heart is full of a bittersweet emotions. There were some painful, dark valleys I trekked through. Some caves, even. Losing my best friend to an early death, being confronted with the rough edges of my personality, losing friendships — those legs of the journey were tough. I never want to go back, of course. But, I must realize the stronger person that I am because of those hard days on the journey.

I then remember those magnificent mountaintops that were waiting on the other side of the valleys of grief, fear, and pain. Those spots were filled with wonder and awe. Learning to love, finding my passion of teaching, and experiencing self-confidence and beauty — just to name a few.

Along the journey we are confronted with so many voices, telling us what college to attend, what career path to choose, who to date, who to stay away from, how we look, how we need to improve, etc. We have been bombarded with the desire to measure up to all these voices but the frustration of never seeming able to.

No one can tell you how you feel, no one can tell you what career fits you best, and no one can decide for you if you if you really like the person you’re dating.

YOU, my friend, have to experience YOUR journey for YOURSELF. No, you don’t have to go at life solo. That’s not what I am saying. But, I do firmly believe that life sometimes consists of trial and error.

You’ve got to be yourself. You’ve got to make your own decisions. You’ve got to fail every once in awhile. You’ve got to feel frustration and have determination in order to feel celebration.

There is no “one” path you can choose in life. The J O U R N E Y of life is a combination of pathways that wind and combine together to make a journey uniquely yours. Sometimes life throws storms and challenges your way. These make you divert down a pathway different from what you would have originally chosen.

Sometimes life throws surprises and situations your way that warrant you to make a decision that will alter your journey in life. This alteration is unexpected. But, on the other end of that decision that changed your pathway in life, you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you made the right choice. Your life is different – but better!

I can’t explain it, really. When I was a teenager, looking forward college and “adult” life, you better believe I had life all planned out. My life looks a thousand times different than those “plans” I had made. Nothing has quite turned out like I thought it would or even wanted it to back then. Am I ever thankful for that! You know why? My life is a thousand times better than I could have imagined it would be! A  J O U R N E Y. That’s what life is.

In the famous words of Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Don’t be afraid to make a decision between two paths. Don’t be afraid to get five years down the road and realize that life didn’t pan out quite like you thought it would. Don’t burden yourself by expectations that weren’t met.

Embrace your J O U R N E Y. Yours is special. Yours is unique. Yours is controlled by you – no one else.

I encourage each of us to take some time to reflect on our journey. Let’s relive the memories. Let’s deal with the emotions. Let’s laugh at the good times, grow from the bad times, and let go of the bitter times. Let’s make the decisions we’ve been holding out on. Let’s release the fear of the “what ifs.” Let’s believe that things happen for a reason. Let’s look forward to what is yet to come. And – most importantly – let’s not forget to hold onto the hand of the Almighty Father who says, “I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I…forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5 ASV)

(Watch for: The J O U R N E Y. Part two. >> Hitting the blog soon!)

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

Face another day…

Gentle Shepherd

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.
Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us,
For we need Your strength from day to day.

There’s no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day.
Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.

(G. Gaither)

 

Face another day…

 

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget… I forget the pain. I forget the rough days, the horrible nights. Those nights when I was scared to fall asleep because Satan had confused my mind so much. Those times when I cried myself to sleep because of the fear inundating my very soul. Those days when I struggled to even want to pray because I felt that I was always messing up. Those chains that held my soul. Those moments when I was overcome with grief – the loss of a best friend. Those valleys that seemed so dark. Those hurts that were more than real. Those heartbreaks – big or small – that left me feeling lonely, confused, battered, and bruised.

I forget. And, to be honest, I am thankful that I forget. I am thankful that Christ has offered me His peace in contrast to my fear, His deliverance in contrast to my bondage, and His healing for my aching heart.

Every once in a while, though, my eyes fill with tears and my heart tugs as my soul remembers the moments of pain and hurt and fear – the times I did not want to face the next day – the times I wanted to give up. And, I believe God gives me these times to remind me of where I have been and what He has brought me through so that I could be the (perhaps) stronger, braver, and wiser person that I am today.

Trust me, friend. With Jesus – no matter how dark the day – you can face it. Don’t stop fighting your battles. You’ll come out on top.