Three Paths In the Woods…

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“Would you like what’s behind door number one, door number two or door number three?” Those famous words are from the old television show, “Let’s Make a Deal!”

 

I’m feeling a bit like a contestant on that show, these days. With Bill looking for a new job, we have been considering lots of possibilities. Some would keep us here in Buffalo and some would mean a move south. Some would mean continuing in the restaurant business, others would mean a career change. Some would have me continuing in real estate (which I’m really enjoying), others would have me working in our own restaurant (which I would also enjoy). So many options. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for options. The alternative is very scary. So, I’m truly glad we have choices.

 

The problem is the way I’m wired. I don’t shop at places like TJ Maxx—or even the mall—for a reason. Too many options…too much going on. I can’t concentrate. Just let me do a search on Amazon and click a couple of buttons and I’m done. No fuss. No muss.

 

That’s the way I feel about the options before us. I kind of wish I could just put it all into a search bar and Amazon would show me the best options, all with reviews and stars to help us make the decision.

 

The other day I was letting myself get all stressed about it. I was fretting and worrying…what if we make the wrong choice? What if we screw up our kids lives? What if the sky falls? I was saying a prayer about it and I kind of felt like God was telling me to calm down. To realize that whatever we choose, He’s going to be with us.

 

The next day, my friends, Heather and Thera, came from Rochester to visit. And as we were talking about all this stuff, Heather told me an interesting story. She said she was struggling with the same feelings…what choice do I make? Do I go down path A or path B? Door number two or three? And as she was mulling it all over she had the thought, “What if the way we view choices is all mixed up? What if it’s not always a right or wrong choice?” As she closed her eyes, soaking up the sun from her patio, she asked God to give her an illustration to help her understand. And this is what she saw in her mind:

 

You’re standing before a forest and there are three paths in front of you. Each leads off into the distance and bends so you can only see the first part of the path. You ask yourself, “Which one is the right one?” But then suddenly, your perspective shifts and you are looking at the forest from above. You can see each pathway leading in but rather than seeing where they all lead (as you would expect), once they bend, all that you can see is white space. And that’s when you hear God say, “Whatever path you choose, we will create the rest of it together. It’s your choice.”

 

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Wow. That was so helpful to me. I needed that perspective shift.

 

It reminds me of when I’m writing a book. I have in mind some of the things that I want my characters to experience and I know where I want them to end up. But I don’t have every scene planned out. Sometimes, as I’m writing, they do something that I didn’t plan for and the story takes an unexpected turn. From there, I keep writing and I will make sure they hit the points I need them to hit, but the pathways to those points aren’t set in stone.

 

What if our lives are like that? What if God has certain things He wants us to experience but the pathways are up to us to choose and then He will write our story from whichever path we are on?

 

I mean, think about it. If it’s all planned out ahead of time, and we make one wrong turn, is the whole plan shot? No, He adjusts with us. He works with us to reach where we need to be. Otherwise, the idea of free will is kind of watered down.

 

So am I saying, “Do whatever you want. God will work with you whatever you do.” Eh, not exactly. There are some obvious right and wrong decisions. If there are moral choices involved, well then we already have a road map for those, right? Do not murder. Do not steal…etc. (Even then, though, God will be with us if we screw up.) But when it’s not a moral decision—when it’s not cut and dry—maybe we just make the best choice we can and count on God to create that new pathway with us?

 

My church has been doing a series on “Life Verse.” The first time our pastor mentioned it, I knew what my life verse was. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verse that I’ve known since I was a young teenager that has comforted me many times. I think I have a new understanding of it today:

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

 

It doesn’t say He will make sure you pick the right path. It says He will make your paths straight. So I don’t have to understand it all ahead of time. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I just have to take it a day at a time and when it comes time to make a decision as to whether we move or stay, I can take comfort knowing that whichever path we choose, God’s gonna be on it with us, whichever way it bends.

And the same goes for you…

 

Photo Credit: Anyjazz63 & James Wheeler on Creative Commons (click the pics for links)

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Your most important decision…your next one.

One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Bessy, wrote a blog called, In which this is saving my life right now, and she asked others to write on the same topic. My first thought was my friends. I often feel that I’m blessed beyond reason with amazing friends. And there are many days when I feel like they are saving my life. And then there’s the incredible book I just read by Steven Furtick, called Sun Stand Still. There is such hope and encouragement to live with audacious faith within those pages that I’m ready to read it again just so I can really soak it all in and start living with bigger faith. But I had already started the following post before I read Sarah’s blog the other day and it is really the thing that is having a huge impact on me right now. If you struggle with making poor choices, read on…

Did you ever notice that bad choices are contagious? It goes something like this; I’m not supposed to eat anything that contains gluten. It does bad things to me. Within an hour of eating bread or pizza I feel like someone has slipped me a Unisom. Within two hours, the headache starts to come on and I can forget a good night’s sleep because I’ll wake up several times in the night with painful cramps. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

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Yet, despite all these documented side-effects ….sometimes I cheat. Sometimes, especially if it’s been a long time since I’ve gone through the gluten effect, the lure of that piece of pizza is too strong and I give in. (Pizza is my favorite food. Ever. I mean just think about it…it’s all four food groups wrapped up into one delicious wedge-shaped slice of deliciousness. I’m going to stop describing it now or I’ll find myself driving to the nearest pizza place to indulge.) So, it’s bad enough that I give in to that slice of pizza. But then, when someone offers me a brownie for dessert, what do I do? I give in again! Why? Because I’ve made one bad choice already and it makes the next one easier. If someone just randomly walked up and offered me a brownie, I wouldn’t take it. But once I’ve already paved the way with one poor choice, the thought goes through my mind, “Well, I’ve already screwed up with the pizza, may as well have the brownie too!” Bad choices are contagious.

And this is just a silly little food example, but it holds true in almost any set of poor choices. Many times the stakes are much higher than my gluten-induced malaise and the poor choices made can lead to disastrous results. But here’s the great news about bad choices being contagious; The inverse is true…good choices are also contagious!

Think about it. Have there been times in your life when you were eating well, working out and generally feeling really healthy? Those good habits built on each other and made wise choices easier. I know that after I spend half an hour working out and sweating like a pig (I hate sweating), I’m much less likely to indulge in a sugar-filled treat. Good choices are contagious.

Yet when I’m in a spiral of bad decisions it’s so hard to get out. I often feel like a failure at the end of the day because I didn’t get my check list done and I didn’t eat right, and I yelled at my kids.

Then the next morning, I’m overwhelmed before I even get out of bed because I’m thinking of all the opportunities I have to screw up my day. So here’s what’s saving my life right now. My new mindset…I’m only thinking about my next choice. I’m making one good decision at a time. Just one. That’s my focus. I don’t need to overwhelm myself with thinking about all the wise choices I need to make to have a successful day. I just need to think about the next choice and make a wise decision. And if I’m only concerned with one choice at a time, I have time to pray and ask God to help me make a wise choice.

This mindset is helping me get out of bed early instead of going back to sleep and starting my day late. It’s helping me resist all the gluteny foods that float in and out of my days. And it’s helping me re-set my day if I start down a road of poor choices. Because while I no longer allow myself to think about the mountain of decisions that are in front of me, I also refuse to focus on the ones behind me. Good or bad. All that I’m concerning myself with is my next decision. And the simplicity of that is saving my life right now. 

How about you? What’s saving your life right now? If you have a blog, write down your answer and join the synchroblog here. If you don’t have a blog, just leave a comment!

Love,

rebekah

 

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