Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Other Road

I met with my friends last Friday. We did laugh a lot, but we never made it to the shooting range. The conversation went very deep and meaningful. That is how it is with old friends. No matter how long it has been since you have seen them, you pick right back up where you left off. You don't have to spend time getting to know each other. I have shared heartaches and triumphs with each of them. I know their stories of going to the dark place, and I know that they both came out stronger than they were before. So it was easy to open my heart to them and let them speak words of comfort and hope to me.

Toward the end of our conversation, Anna was telling me about a sermon that she once heard. The minister referenced Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." She said that the minister talked about "The Other Road" in the sermon. Why is it that the other road always looks better than the one we are on? I came home and read the poem again. I am embarrassed to say that I thought the title of the poem was "The Road Less Traveled." (You have to cut me a little slack. I am a math teacher.) After reading some commentaries on the poem, I realized that I had the meaning all wrong!

When I first read the poem, I thought it was simply a statement of nonconformity. Just do your own thing, and don't worry about what the world says. Take the less traveled path and it will make all the difference for you. But as you read the poem, you find out that in reality, neither path is less traveled. They are both the same. The writer has come to a fork in the road, and he must make a choice. It seems as if he thinks he will look back and think that he made the wrong choice, regardless of which road he takes.

Regret. Maybe that is the theme of the poem. No matter who we are or where we are in life, we often find ourselves looking at the road not taken and sighing deeply. What if...? We all have those moments, and if we allow them to, they can absolutely eat us alive and steal every moment of joy that God intends for us to have. This seems to be the writer's dilemma in the poem. He is afraid that no matter which road he chooses, he will end up regretting the choice. There is not a person alive who has not faced such a choice.

Some might say, "Well, I had no choice in the road I took." I will admit that this thought has entered my mind many times. In a sense this is true. Maybe I was put on this road of my "Unplanned Journey" through no choice of my own. But now that I am here, I face two more roads diverging. Actually, I face multiple roads. Which one do I choose? I am afraid that I will choose the wrong road. I am afraid that one day when I am old, I will be telling a story with a sigh. So what do I do?

I do what I have done all along. I cling tightly to my faith. I seek Godly counsel from wise friends, and I make a choice. There is one road that I know I cannot take. It is the road of "What might have been." This road is filled with nothing but rough terrain, and it only leads to the pit of bitterness and unforgiveness. I will not choose this road. I will choose another, and I will walk that road with all its hills and valleys and make it be the very best trip it can be.

My grandpa was one of the greatest men that I think ever walked on the face of this earth. He was a simple man with an eighth grade education. His big break in his career came when he got a job driving the bus for the servicemen at Ft. Rucker. His name is not recorded in any books, but he was a great man. He loved deeply. He loved everyone he knew, and everyone loved him. He didn't hold anything against anyone.

He was the youngest of several children. His mother died when he was two months old. He told me a story once. After the death of his mother, his older sister, who was married, offered to take him and raise him. She said to her father that they would not have any more children. He would be their only child, and they would provide well for him. They would save money and send him to college and give him a life that he could not have otherwise. He said, "My daddy wouldn't agree to it." I remember sitting there as a young teen and thinking how unfair this was. My grandpa only got an eighth grade education. Look at the life he could have had if my great grandfather had just done what was in grandpa's best interest. Then my grandpa said something that I will never forget as long as I live. He smiled this great big smile and said, "My daddy loved me too much to give me away." He could not have been any happier with the way his life turned out. He never regretted "The Road Not Taken."

I thank God that this man's genes are in my makeup. I pray that I can look at my life that way. I pray that I will not live a life of regret. Life is far too short for that. I love a quote I found by Victoria Holt:

Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.

May this be the way that we look at our lives today and every day.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)

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.

Trust the Lord, not yourself. It is as simple as that!

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