It’s a strange place to be, this particular spot in life where we’re too committed to the current path to even consider going back. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever reached that point?
Before this, there was the beginning. The starting out. The hemming and hawing and difficult decisions and the voices – oh, the voices! – protesting and arguing and whining. There was that sense that our feet were far too tender for the path we were called to travel. A lonely path. A path few understood.
Then, when we finally started off down this narrow way, there were the (many) places where it was hard not to look back, and while looking back, hard not to turn back. That was the place of second guesses and curious road blocks. That was the place where the launching point was still in view, still attainable, still turn-back-and-findable.
But the last six months have been a machete slicing its way through undergrowth. The path, once felt so defined, vanished, but the place at which it melted away became its own launching point, and with all the slashing and breaking, the stinging and stooping, we completely lost all sight of where we’d come from. We stopped and we looked around and we marveled at the silence. The peace. The unrecognizable.
When that realization hits, that the way back is no easier than the way forward, the first sense is panic. How did we so easily lose our lifeline to that place of safety? What now? Where do we turn? There is, at that point, no greater temptation than to sit down and cry a river of tears and hope you can somehow drown yourself in their shallow stream.
But we did none of those things. We kept moving forward. And we learned something rather shocking.
There is a remarkable peace to be found when the way back to mediocrity has been erased. There is a remarkable excitement when the way forward has nothing to offer but calamitous failure or life lived to the fullest.
And who is to say that one is not found in the other?
7 Replies to “Forget the Path Behind You – It Leads Back to Mediocrity”
The time was March 2007. I had worked my final day at the job I had come to despise, with people that were only encouraging me along in this life of destruction. I left that job with what I would call “blind faith” at the time because I had no other job to leap to. Within six months the perverbial rug was literally yanked out from under me. I was stunned. Even in all my lies and deception I really thought I had control. I did not. I would find myself choosing to leave everyone and everything behind – giving this messy life lived and found in a pit to Jesus – this Man I was raised with but grew up with a million and one misconceptions of (and frankly didn’t really care much for). Amazing the things a person does when their life falls completely apart.
Shawn, I cannot tell you how many times I looked back. In present time I am still unemployed. What? Yes. 5 1/2 years with no work. Not without trying though. I finally gave up in August of 2011 when the job interview turned interrogation on who Jesus was to me because I didn’t (and don’t) attend church. I drove home with a handful of kleenex to catch the river of tears that were springing up from my soul. The financial hardships wouldn’t have happened if I’d only stayed at that $40,000 a year job. The loneliness wouldn’t have stung if I hadn’t changed my phone number and e-mail leaving every single person in the dust of my decision.
I’ve changed. In and through it all, I’ve changed. Whooda thunk it, right? Somewhere along the line everything morphed into a new creation that brought with it new desires and dreams and priorities. Don’t misunderstand, please. I still have fleeting moments of shame and fear. But looming larger and larger through the windshield of my life is this Figure Who seems to go before me. And I follow. And I trust.
Thanks for letting me share. And for your inspiration.
In His grace,
YES! I so get this. Onward and upward, my friend!
WOW to both you and Rebekah. such a gift of describing things that probably we have felt, I know I have been there. I left an abusive marriage, to face lonelness, not knowing what to do to take care of my children. I tried to get a job in accounting, but discovered my Accounts Payable and Receiveables that I had worked part-time, was far too little. I tried typing, but it had been so long since I did that, and failed the tests. I put in applications at the fast food places for a full or part-time job, but they apparently felt that 42 was too old to start a career with them. Did a lot of looking back. Finally I bit the bullet (it wasn’t easy) and got financial help and took two years of accounting at a local business school. I found a good job, and after a while I found my present loving husband of 30 years now. I paid off the student loan so much a month, and my kids grew up and made a life of their own. None of this happened overnight, so there was many, many times I felt that maybe I had made a wrong decision, maybe I should have stuck it out until the children were older, and that constant fear that I would not succeed and would fall flat on my face, and terrible things would happen to us. It was so hard to make a decision –after 24 years of being blamed for everything bad that ever happened, I was very insecure. Much fear and looking back, but eventually I KNEW I had taken the right path..
This is inspiring. Thank-you.
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