Everyone has a moment that defines their life; that causes them to stop and look where they are at in that place in time; that causes them to make decisions about the direction their life is headed.
Far too often when we are at the crossroad of those moments in our lives, we are either moving too fast to even notice the “path less traveled,” or we acknowledge it but simply aren’t willing to take that route.
We focus on the little things on the alternate route that we think would cause it to be “more troublesome” or not as “fun,” and how it would make for a more difficult journey. We move past it, not giving it a second thought and choose to go with what we know, the “easy” way.
We justify our choices by telling ourselves there’s a reason that path was narrow and had no traffic, while the one we chose to stay on has constantly moving traffic.
How many times have we looked back and wondered what life would have been like if we had made different choices, if we hadn’t made poor decisions? It’s safe to say we gave up trying to count a long time ago.
Just because we’ve had a lifetime of making the wrong choices, taking the wrong path, finding ourselves in a never-ending valley, as we wonder why we never seem to be able to reach the top of the mountain, doesn’t mean we will continue to do so.
Sometimes it takes being at the end-of-the-rope, the bottom-of-the-barrel, and the low man on the totem pole (OK, enough clichés) before we decide a change is needed.
Regardless of how we get to the point when we realize some thing, or some things, has to change. It all begins with first acknowledging that we WANT to change and are willing to do whatever it takes to make the necessary changes.
No more excuses, no more blaming someone else for your actions, behaviors or for making you who you are today. You have to look in the mirror and realize you are who you are because of the choices and decisions YOU made.
Sometimes you can’t do anything about the situations you find yourself in, but how you handle or react to those situations makes all the difference. When faced with something that is uncomfortable, each of us has choices to make. Some of the choices are easy, cut and dry, black and white, while others are more difficult, with various shades of gray.
Far too often when we find ourselves with a difficult choice to make we KNOW what we should do, but we opt for the easier choice. We do that because it’s easier to handle and don’t think about the consequences of our actions.
That is where I found myself not too long ago. I knew what path I should have been following and even started down that path for a short time. But I wasn’t walking the path for the right reasons and my heart wasn’t right.
So it comes to no surprise to me now that when it started to get difficult for me, I began looking for ways back to the road I had been on my entire life.
When I got back on that road, I found that it wasn’t like I remembered. The traffic that had always been there didn’t seem to move as fast as before, it was louder, more congested, less enjoyable. But I kept pushing those thoughts and feelings aside.
I made excuses, blamed others and wouldn’t acknowledge that I had made the mistake of getting off the path I knew I should have stayed on. I kept moving forward on that road. But this time it had an all too familiar feeling and it kept smacking me in the face.
I found myself repeating behaviors and patterns that I had vowed to stop. I found myself looking for something inside when I thought I should have been content with where I was in life. I found myself wondering why I was doing the things I was doing, wanting to stop but not knowing how.
As I began to see the signs warning me that there was an available exit, I really began to look at my surroundings, the past, present and future of my life, and I found myself slowing down as I pondered the leaving the road that was so familiar to me.
On July 16th, 2006, I was making my way down the only road I’d ever known when I felt something inside of me move. It was as if something inside of me was trying to get my attention, trying to warn me of an approaching exit, an opportunity to get back on the path I had attempted to travel before.
I felt myself slowing down as I tried to figure out what was happening. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything that was going on. Things didn’t make sense to me no matter how hard I tried to dissect it. I tried blaming others, thinking they were “faking me out” with things that had been said, things I had seen. It didn’t work though.
It didn’t take long to see it wasn’t just a feeling, which was getting a LOT stronger, I was experiencing. I could hear something, too. It was faint but I could make a still, soft voice out over the noise of the traffic.
The funny thing is I should have been scared to death. For all I knew I was dying and going crazy at the same time. But there was something calming about what I was experiencing and I wasn’t afraid at all. As I began to really focus on not just hearing that voice, but making out what it was saying I could feel myself completely stop moving.
There I was, stopped in the middle of that fast-moving highway of life looking around and listening. That voice was getting closer and I could begin to make it out a little which only caused me to try and figure out even more.
I heard my name and I wanted to yell out to see who was calling me, but it was as if I couldn’t move or make a sound. But still I wasn’t afraid.
Voice: Jason, it’s me. You know what you should do.
That’s all I heard.
It was gone and I was left standing there with that same feeling inside as if something was pulling me from within.
I didn’t stop and think, didn’t question what it was I was “should do” because I knew. Instantly I knew.
There I stood in silence knowing I had made bad choices, knowing I had hurt the people who loved me, and knowing I was wrong.
That’s when it all came out. I was flooded with emotion and couldn’t contain it.
My eyes filled with tears that flowed down my face as I thought of how I had hurt the one person I had vowed to love forever; how, in my selfishness, I turned away from the life I knew I should be living to fall back into the life I didn’t want; how I wasn’t becoming a better person as I had told myself I was going to be; how I felt so alone.
The tears gushed out of my eyes and dripped off my jaws as I sobbed out loud. I gasped for breath as I asked “Why?” and “what does all of this mean?”
It was at that point that fear began to creep in. I was afraid that because of all the bad choices I had made I wouldn’t be able to make things right. How could I when I had repeated the same mistakes over and over? I didn’t know what to do, where to begin or how to even think about doing what needed to be done. There I was lying on the ground, sobbing, my mind racing when I cried out for God to help me.
Me: God, please help me. I need You to wrap your arms around me and hold me.
At that exact moment everything stopped.
My eyes dried up, the fears vanished and I picked myself up. I looked around and felt this overwhelming peace inside of me.
It was as if God had been standing right next to me through this entire ordeal, watching me struggle and suffer. He wanted to help me, but He wanted me to ask for His help first. The second, literally in the second, I did He took it all away. He picked me up in His arms and held me. I relate it to a father watching his young child struggle with something and wanting the child to learn a lesson before he rescues him.
That’s the perfect word for what happened to me. I was rescued.
I didn’t know what all needed to be done or even how I was going to begin doing the things I needed to do to restore everything I had demolished. All I knew is that I was willing to do what it took to become the man He wanted me to be. I wasn’t afraid because I KNEW God was going to help me. I just didn’t know if it would even be possible.
I had plenty of times where I needed God to show me “signs” before I truly believed that it was going to work.
I was like Gideon (Judges 6) in that I kept throwing down fleece after fleece, asking for God to continually “prove” that this was His plan to me before I was truly convinced.
It took 24 hours, actually less than that, for Him to convince me.
to be continued…