And That Has Made All the Difference

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The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The first time I remember hearing this poem was at a Junior High Choir Festival. A small group of kids from my school choir had been selected to go to a neighboring town, I seem to be remembering it was on a college campus but I could be wrong, and attend the all day festival.
It was called a festival by the organizers but I use the term loosely and only because that was how it was labeled that day. I hardly call a whole day of putting poetry to music festive. Especially poems about life choices. Especially in junior high. Anyway, we went, we learned, we sang….all day.
Over lunch that day my friend commented to her mom that she should bring tissues to our performance because the depth of the song would probably bring her to tears. We took very little serious in those days and thought making our moms cry over precious moments was just about the end all. We laughed about it and went back to the festival.
As we stood that evening on risers, waiting for the music to begin, I glanced over at my friend who was on the farthest end of the riser opposite me. She pretended to wipe a tear from  her eye. I giggled. She giggled. The other two friends who had joined us in the tissue conversation at lunch giggled. We looked to the crowd to see our moms giggling.
And we were done.
We snickered and giggled and shook through the entire performance. The whole song. I feel certain I did not sing one single note.
I remember the look of rage on the choir director’s face. She was appalled by our behavior but we cared very little. The thought of two roads in a yellow wood was hilarious to us that day.
We were not invited back.
I think about that day often. I wonder what it was about the poem that made us laugh so hard from the deepest places in our gut. I know it was probably more about making our moms cry but I still wonder.
This poem has come across my path many times over the years. It’s pretty famous so it’s understandable and I claim no tie to the choir festival. It’s actually a very beautiful poem and speaks a truth we all must wrestle at some point in life.

Do our choices matter?

I read Andy Stanley’s book “Principle of the Path” years ago and, to be honest, found it to be life changing. He talks about the tension between where we want to end up in life and the path we choose to get there. This message seems so simple yet it’s one that so many of us wrestle every day. We often have the best of intentions. We know where we want to be and yet we make choices that say otherwise. We see all the tracks laid out before us and wonder if it’s possible that several of them will lead to the same end location. Sometimes there are even signs; sometimes there are people who have taken a specific track and we think that it will lead us somewhere else. Surely it will be different for us.

It’s madness.

Making choices this way can start off seemingly harmless. For instance, we all know that over-eating is not good for our bodies. We know that it makes us miserable. It causes physical pain and can make us sick. Yet every Thanksgiving, thousands of people chose to over-indulge. The turkey, the potatoes, the stuffing and pie…they all taste so good and it’s a special day and….

Making this poor choice to eat too much food causes only temporary discomfort if it happens once a year. But what about when we make the choice more often? When “treating” ourselves becomes a weekly thing? A daily thing? Well, then the consequences get deeper. Weight gain, diabetes, intestinal damage, budget constraints, medication…just to name a few.

Choices come in almost every minute of every day. Do I choose to sleep an extra ten minutes? Do I choose yogurt over a donut for breakfast? Do I take the road with the stop light or weave through the neighborhood with stop signs? Do I say “hello” to the lady in the hall who snubbed me on Sunday? Do I pay this bill today or wait until tomorrow? Do I invest here or there?

Choices are inevitable. So are consequences. When we look at the tracks ahead and make a clear and conscious decision to walk all the way down one, are we ready to find out what’s on the other end? And will there be anyone but myself to blame if I don’t like the final destination?

I’ve regretted a lot of choices in my past. I’ve reached many a track end and realized I had chosen poorly. I’ve pointed fingers and thrown fits and screamed and cried. The hard truth, however, is that most of the time I chose that track with my eyes wide open. Of course life throws circumstances your way. It’s thrown me a few curve balls over the years. There have been side paths and side walks and little curvy trails that were additions to the map after I started. But I still have a choice in how I handle each one.

Every single morning I have a choice to wake up, praise my Heavenly Father, and walk in His Spirit of light and love. I can choose all of that. Or I can choose the opposite. I can choose to wallow in self, blame others, complain about the rockiness of the path. I can choose to ignore truth, speak out of hurt places, and focus on wrongs.

My day always goes better when I choose the the Light and yet I wake up frequently and choose the opposite.

I have never regretted a choice made in Light and Truth.

I have only and always regretted choices made from other places.

I am learning to offer grace for the poor choices of my past and move forward in Light.

And that has made all the difference.

 

 

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Today’s post falls on the 25th day of the Write 31 Days Challenge. You can find a list of other posts here.

Want to learn more about “The Purpose of the Path” by Andy Stanley? You can order it from Amazon or many other book retailers. I make zero dollars from the book sales or from recommending it. I just love it.

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