Keeping Other Roads [or, excuse if this post seems to jump around...I have a lot on my mind tonight.]

I love the poem "The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost. Do you know it? Here it is:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, 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.

- Robert Frost

My mom used to read, or rather, quote it to me when I was a little girl -- she had it basically memorized, since she had read it from the time she was little. Whenever I am away from home for a while, I like to go back and think it over. My favorite lines are:

"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 take photographs that way. When I first went to London, my very first day my parents were so jetlagged that they took a good nap. However, I was too excited and went off to explore the city, camera in hand and British accent ready for testing ;) I took photos like this part of the poem; I would see a picture, go to it and shoot away, and then take whatever path I saw that I thought might have a good picture in the process... I thereby managed to get lost in 20 minutes, a new record for myself! For several hours I went through alleys and down pathways, twists and turns until I realized my battery was almost gone. If it wasn't for full memory cards and empty batteries, I probably would still be out there, snapping away!

I know I am philosophizing now, but have you ever thought how this process of pathways has molded your life? Have you ever looked back and seen the different paths you might have taken, but didn't, "and that has made all the difference"? I have, fairly often. What if I had decided to act differently with so-and-so? Would we be friends now? What if I had followed up on my idea of creating this group, or that? What would I be like now? What if I had decided to pay attention in science class, instead of passing notes under the table in 7th grade, and thinking I was so smart?

There are so many 'What if's in life. So many possible roads not taken. But each road we did take, whether it be to say hi to the barista behind the counter, or buy eggs and milk from one store instead of another, managed to shape our life in some way. Think of the important decisions you made this past year: I made a decision to be an au pair for the month of December, to help out some fantastic friends and their kids who happened to live but 15 minutes from my own home. In doing so, I learned how to make wise money choices, how to get along with people better, how drive a stick shift much better, so on and so forth! In the last week of my job, I made the decision to not continue down that road, but take a path very little have trod, and cross an ocean to be with friends and start a path that I will be on for two months, learning more of the world by experiencing it first hand than I could have ever learned from just secondhand accounts-- like what a giraffe's tongue feels like against the palm of my hand, or how a photo and a smile can change an acquaintance of insecurity into a real relationship and blossoming friendship. How two 8 year old girls from two totally different backgrounds can forge fast friendships in the matter of an hour.

Sure we have all thought "What if?" but have you ever thought of the consequences of "Because I?" Because I was terribly self-centered as a kid growing up, I thought I didn't have to be kind to boys and thereby ruined some friendships I will probably never get back. Because I spoke thoughtlessly, I hurt a lot of people I cared for but didn't take the time to show it.

A lot of people tend to think of "Because I" or "What if" in past tense. Have you ever thought about it in present or future tense? What if I choose to go running tomorrow, instead of my normal sleeping in and late breakfast? Because I want this or that, should I act this way or that way?

I have a lot of friends. Many dear wonderful friends that I have met or become acquainted with through various ways. Each one, in one way or another, has helped make me who I am today. But have I ever really stopped to think about how I act toward them? Have you ever stopped to think how you act towards those you know? We often get into this groove of going our way. We have our own plans, our own knowledge of how life should be run. We get settled into this way, and then --wait! We forget, there are other people on this planet, who have their own lives, and their own grooves and their own set of plans. Praise God He has given us rules so that we may know the way to go-- otherwise I would be hopelessly lost. But, to return to what I was saying, we tend to have our own goals in mind and we sometimes forget that how we get those goals accomplished sometimes ruins our prize before we are done.

Here is what I mean, straight up. You love someone, very very much. You care for them so much you say you would do anything for them, right? Then they go, and they live their life, and all the sudden-- they have a different plan than you. Maybe they tell you straight away, maybe they don't. Either way, it comes as a shock. Here is where the road splits: how are you going to react? Will you give up your plan for them, or will you fight until you get your way?

I will admit, I have a hard time letting people I love go their own way, especially when I think it could lead toward disaster [not physically, but emotionally]. I think they are crazy, absurd, blind if they don't see what could happen to them. I try to reason with them, give them my points of view... sometimes I tell them thats what their point of view should be and change it right now! ;) However, I have realized... That rarely works. Incredibly, there are some people in this world not only as stubborn as me, but they can be in the right as well, and shockingly-- I can be in the wrong! [ha, you didn't see that coming, did you? Me admitting to being wrong... occasionally ;) ] But here is what I am getting to, and please understand me: if you, like me, have difficulty in this area, don't fight so hard for your position that you lose the person you care for. Don't fight so hard to be right and to win that in the end, the person you thought you were trying to save doesn't care for you anymore, or at least doesn't want to see you for a while.

I am not talking about arguments for or against sinning. Those are not debatable issues, but moral issues where God has clearly given a right or a wrong. I am talking about areas of gray.

Oh I am so tired right now, I can barely think to end this post, but I must or else I shall find another rabbit trail to follow. But here is the long and short of what this whole post was about:
I love Robert Frost's poem because it shows how life is, two paths always presented before you, one of which you will end up taking because you can never turn back. Don't regret taking a path not worth taking until the end. Don't ever take a path that will make you say 5 years from now "Why oh why did no one stop me?". Don't argue or bicker unless there is a righteous cause.

"If at all possible, ... be at peace with all men." Romans 18:12

and I think I shall take another verse, and be quiet the rest of the night...
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues, keep themselves from calamity." Proverbs 21:23.

Because He lives,


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