"Don't compare your path with anybody else's. Your path is unique to you." Ram Pass. Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it." M.H. McKee. "Do what God calls you to do where you are; embrace your place because God put you in that place." Esther 4:12-17. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT).
At some point in this journey we call life, I believe that we become a little more than curious about where we have been and where we are going in terms of the path we are on with regard to success, failure, legacy, etc. After all, we are finite creatures. "What will be the sign that you were here?" It's important that you realize that you have a responsibility to do something with your life. You must not be cavalier with this precious gift from above." Cindy Trimm.
Not to be too philosophical or dramatic, but I have sat up in my bed in the middle of the night and asked myself, "What have I done with this precious life God has given me?" I do not panic. But, I do some serious introspection. One cannot always observe by what's going on daily, whether you are on the path to reaching your full potential or even living a meaningful life. Sometimes what we think has merit, does not. I'm okay, but sometimes I do wonder if I am on the right track or if I have veered a little off track. "If you are trying hard, you're on the right track." Michael Pullman. I do not necessarily agree with this quote one hundred percent. However, I can agree that if you are working hard at something, you believe it is worthwhile. I digress.
In my mind the "right track" is equated with the right path for my life. The system of measurement that I have for this is God's word. Do my actions, my life; bear fruit? Galatians 5:22-23. In my striving to be better and to accomplish more, have I helped someone who is in need? Is there any evidence of the work and/or energy and resources that I have utilized in walking this path been fully applied? What has been the outcome? "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?" Matthew 7:16. "Each tree is recognized by its own fruit." Luke 6:44. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good." Luke 6:43-45.
We all (most of us) want to leave a legacy of our having walked and lived on this earth. Will the path we have chosen ensure that? This living is a not a selfish pursuit. Our legacy must involve love for God and our fellowman. Love is an action word and all that it implies. To be clear, we are to live this life abundantly, joyfully in accordance with the will of God. In the process our legacy is created. Let me hasten to say that just because I cannot always visually see the fruit that has been generated in my life does not mean there is none. "You never know what's around the corner. It may be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain." Tom Hiddleston.
"Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement." Clement Stone. If I am honest, I know that God has designed a path for each of our lives. It is not so difficult to decipher. It is right in His word. We are to love Him and our neighbors as ourselves. Figure out what that entails, and you will be on the right path. Need more assistance? (I know I always do). The fruit bearing life can be understood more clearly when we accept that God knows the plan for each of our lives. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. We need to seek Him through prayer and His word to understand the path that we should be on. It is not complicated. Don't make it so.
"When you find the path reveals itself, follow it." Cheryl Strayed. " When you find the path, you must ignore fear. You need to have the courage to risk mistakes. But, once you are on that road run, run, run and don't stop until you've reached its end." Jose N. Harris. For me, I find myself looking for some grand event. The truth is I cannot seem to accept that God has made it transparent and simple. My path is to share God's word through the written and spoken word and to live a life that reflects the mercies, grace and blessings of God. This sounds wonderfully succinct, as if I have it all together. Not so. When I pop up in the middle of the night and ask myself where I am in terms of the path I am on, I am not always sure. Don't get it twisted, I am certain of my eternal security. For some reason, I have not completely embraced the path that I know God has placed me on. Why? I think because it seems incredibly clear and simple. Please do not ask me why this should present a problem. I am only human. But, I am praying, and I am staying the course.
Every now and then one of my church school students or someone who reads my blog will share with me how they were blessed by my teaching and/or my blog postings. It is then that I realize that this is "bearing fruit." I am working hard with God's help to embrace the path I am on. In the Proverbs scripture above, it instructs us to trust God and not try to probe things according to our human level of understanding or intellect. Our minds are finite; we do not have the capacity of the mind of God. We/I need to let go and let God lead. He knows me better than I know myself. "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother 's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...Psalm 139:13-16. To be honest, and that is always my aim, I am the one who is always questioning my path. The Lord has already revealed it to me. Pray with and for me. I need to surrender to it. "Surrender to your path, forget about time or speed, most importantly walk in joy." Roxana Jones.
We cannot walk someone else's path. The path that God has called you to travel is uniquely for you. No one can walk that path but you. When we focus on someone else's path, we lose sight of where we are going. We question/compare our path to others, and sometimes we feel we come up short. We sometimes get envious. Jesus tells us in John 21 to embrace the path that we are on. Don't worry about someone else's path.
Like others have done, I have looked around at others 'path and they appear to be light years ahead of me in terms of accomplishments, spiritual and otherwise. Thank the Lord that I do regroup and remember that the race is not to the swift, but to the one who endures to the end. "Let us not get weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9.
There is a song we sing in church: "I Have A Testimony." One line of the lyrics is: " When I look back over my life, I can truly say that I've been blessed, I have a testimony." I have shared my testimony on this (my) path and it has blessed others. (Another fruit!). If we just keep moving on our path, God walks with us and guides us. Trying to walk in someone else's path in the moment is okay when you are trying to be empathetic, but it is totally insufficient or impossible to substitute your life for theirs. Most times we cannot even understand what someone is going through if we have not experienced what they are dealing with. However, we can be supportive. We are all called to serve God, but our paths differ in accordance with God's will and design.
I am reminded of the movie, "Single White Female" where a young woman who became a roommate with another young woman and who tried to take over the life of her roommate by dressing like her, combing her hair like hers, etc. It did not work because their history is not the same; they are two different people. In the same way, you would have had to have been born with the same parents, the same DNA and faced the exact same circumstances to even begin to assume someone else's life. Even then it's a stretch. Some siblings are like night and day. You cannot insert your life into someone else's and become them. We all know this is not possible. In fact, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it." Hence, stay on your own path.
Simply put, you can only imagine what another person's life is like. Take Joseph in the Bible; yes, life looked pretty appealing when he was second only to the prime minister. But, do you know the horrific path that led him there? Read his story in the book of Genesis. You really do not know what is around the corner for your own life; what events will take place; good, bad or indifferent. The same is true of wanting to walk in another's path. You cannot do it anyway. "The grass is always greener on the other side." Ask your neighbor, and they will tell you either it is not so or how much time, effort and money it took to make the grass greener.
Better to focus on your life and embrace the path before you. God put you there, He knows you are there and He walks with you there. When it is time to move you elsewhere, He will. He knows the plans He has for you.
When life is not heading in the direction that you feel it should, consider the following:
Review your plans/goals that you have set for your life. Remember, you plan to fail if you fail to plan. Nothing (well not most meaningful things) will happen by chance. You cannot count on your goals being met without any effort or attention. Life can get in the way sometimes and we push important things to the back burner. Revisit where you started and where you are now. Are you on the same path? Or have you abandoned it? Where was the breakdown? You can fix it. Get to it.
Ask yourself whether your "why" has changed. Have a conversation with yourself (don't act like you have never done this before). Ask yourself "why" you are on the path you are on? Perhaps the reason for being on this path has changed. Your "why" was intentional when you first started writing your goals. At the very least, you had plans to accomplish some things in your life, and at the time you knew why. It is okay if your plans have changed or if you have to tweak your goals to accommodate your current status. Maybe you reached your weight loss goals or you have earned that degree that you were studying so hard for and graduated. Perhaps you are no longer interested in the goals you set and narrowed it to finding a mate and becoming a civil rights icon. (It's possible). This is fine so long as you are willing to make the commitment of time and resources to accomplish your new goals. Before you switch or make changes, ask yourself "why?"
If your "why" is still intact, then evaluate, critique and move forward. Assess where you are and determine next steps. Some things/questions to consider:
a. Am I on the right path for me? "We must take time to define our own path. Too quickly we find the world defining it for us." Anonymous. Have you thought this through? Is this the path that lines up with your God given gifts and abilities. If you are on the path that is right for you, get rid of doubt and "be about it." Evaluate and critique in a timely way and exercise confidence. Of course, pray.
b. "Over every mountain, there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley." Theodore Roethke. Can you step up to meet the challenges that this choice/path calls for? Remember always that you are not alone, but you do have to put the work in. Sometimes life gets rough, obstacles come. Are you willing to persevere to get to the other side where victory is? There is a sacrifice for every gain. Think about it.
c. Who is your support system; your amen corner? Get one. We all need encouragement along the way. "People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world." Barbra Streisand. You need to get some folks to lift you up and to hold you accountable; people who love you and want you to succeed. Staying on task, whether physical or spiritual can sometimes be daunting. Those individuals rooting for you will understand and help you over the finish line.
"Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them." Ruben Chavez. When you find that you are on the right path for your life, and you know because you have prayed about it, then do not let anything or anyone get in your way. Embrace your path, stop looking for something else. If your path is to live a life of kindness, do that with everything you got. Trust and believe, the world can use more kindness. God will lead to where your kindness can have the most impact.
We are all created by God for a purpose. "The mystery of human existence lies not in staying alive, but in finding something to live for." Fyodor Dostoyevsky. God has created us to love and live for Him and to love and serve each other.
Stay on the path that God has deigned for you and be blessed and be a blessing! Godspeed!!
Thank you again for your love and support. I remain truly appreciative. You can send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org