Sometimes we convince ourselves we don't have a plan when in reality, we've been creating a master plan for our lives without letting the pieces fall into place the way the Master has planned for us.
Someone once told me it's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole; cliche, but undeniably true. As driven individuals we sometimes refuse to give up on something that masks itself as perfection . . . the one and only answer to ultimate satisfaction and happiness.
We can continue to convince ourselves over and over and over again that something is right for us or meant for us, but know, deep at the heart of whatever the situation is, that it's not our calling, at least not at this time in our life. Sometimes we want these things so badly that we're willing to do whatever it takes to get them, selfishly pushing aside all of the signs that are pointing us in a different direction on our path. The other day I was running at Pearson Park, reminiscing about my younger days and journaling some of those memories.
The sun was streaming through the forest I'd grown up in where I'd walk next to my grandparents on hot afternoons. The trees never really changed height because as I grew up, so did they. Although the paths in the forest felt more magical when I was little. . .more intriguing and more mysterious, they weaved down the same line of trees. The park holds in those memories like a snow globe, easily rewatched when the leaves are rustled by a similar breeze from 13 years ago. I remember the bag of freshly washed grapes staining the brown picnic table, my grandma's soft hands plucking a few and depositing them in my palm eagerly yearning for the crunch of the purple fruit. She would tell me stories about her childhood even when my eyes kept peaking at the R.L. Stine novel in my lap. Dad's band would play those boring songs not anywhere near as cool as Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys, but, they'd eventually become some of my favorites over the years.
And when we would get back on the trail and take those long walks with Grandpa, the rocky path seemed to go on forever and ever, and I could never figure out which end of the trail we started on. They'd walk hand-in-hand and I'd lag in the back, staring in awe at the hand-carved initials of young lovers adorning the giant birches' trunks. "One day it'll be me," I used to tell myself, wrapped up in the fairytale day dreams of a typical 9-year-old girl.
Now the carvings have grown in number, the couples older and probably with kids of their own, hearing stories about their parents' great love and that time they snuck away at the family picnic to graffiti the wildlife. As my tennis shoes padded past one of the trees, an inescapable giggle flew from my lips, amidst exercise-induced breaths. The initials haunt a teenage memory that never was. I created my own path through the forest, writing my initials on rocks and the inside of book covers.
And even though it's the same place, it's always going to be different. And even though it's the same path, running in a different direction delivers a new perspective.
After that day in the park I couldn't stop thinking about how weird it was when I ran the trail backwards instead of the way I'd always gone before. Although it was the same as it has always been, it was different and I had only failed to notice what was right in front of me. It made me think how sometimes, in order to find our actual direction, to discern our passions, our driving force and the joy behind our smile, we need to change our approach. It's the same process, but taken from a different angle. When we're willing to go a different way than usual on the same course, that's when we find what's been hiding from us. It's like being in a room with a two-way mirror. If you're on the inside, you don't realize there's something on the outside looking in. Unless you step outside of the room, and change your point of view when looking at that same mirror, you don't realize what's always been there staring right back into your own eyes.
It's incredibly easy to miss the signs that are right in front of us when we think there is only one way to achieve or answer a dream, a hope, a goal or a prayer. Blindsided, we keep running in circles; we're unaware of the fork to the left that's been waiting for us to notice it, hidden behind the cobwebs that have formed from passing it by too many times.
Don't ever stop listening to that voice nudging you to change your direction or your approach. God's hand is always at work, His voice calling us from every angle. We have to be willing to take off the blindfold, step out of the mirrored room, brush away the cobwebs and listen - intently and honestly. Just because the doors seem to be closing on a dream or goal, doesn't mean that God hasn't mapped out another way for you to achieve it. Change offers us a chance to stay true to ourselves and discern our heart's ultimate desires. Don't give up; keep searching. You will find it and you will be found.
Never stop running the race set out before you.