Does it feel like you've hit a dead end or can't find a way out of your impossible situation?
This year has brought me to a couple of cliff-moments where I couldn't spot the path down from the rocky ledge life led me to. I'm either stuck, not sure where to go, or facing a choice between two not-so-good options.
Looking in the Wrong Direction
I've often wished for a compass or road map on this journey called life. Or a User's Guide that would define the warning lights going off and how to fix the problem with step-by-step instructions. It was during one of those moments that I heard Ann Voskamp give a lecture.
"Just because you can't see the WHY or the WAY doesn't mean there isn't one."
How many times have I wanted a "why" to explain the rationale behind me enduring a particular challenge? Almost as many times as I've been disappointed in never getting one!
Perhaps it's our Western mindset to want an answer to everything, or maybe it's just my own scientific mind that demands one, but I'm learning that seeking an answer to the "whys" of life isn't the right question. This obsession to find the "why" when I'm traveling a rocky roadway has me looking in the wrong direction.
What you focus on is what you dwell on. Want to change your behavior when faced with an impossible situation? When despair is telling you there is no way through this and hope but a faint memory? Then change your focus.
For me, I believe in something bigger than me—a Creator who designed this universe. Who designed me. And this Creator doesn't answer to me. (I'll live a very frustrated life if I operated under than philosophy... just read the Book of Job and see how that turned out for Job!)
But there are many others before me who lived through impossible situations, horrible outcomes, and moments where they thought there was no way through. I'm the type of person who learns how to live life by learning about the past, so it's natural that I gravitate backwards before I move forwards. What I've learned is that the human spirit is so much more stubborn and resilient than we give it credit for.
Poets have waxed lyrics on this topic. Philosophers have sought its truth. People, like you and I, who have lived through great trials and discovered it for themselves.
Viktor Frankl (1946): Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Alexander Pope (1711): Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
William Shakespeare (1599): Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
Confucius (around 5th century BC): Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Job (between 7-4th century BC): I know that [Adonai] can do everything, that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Finding Your Way
I'm tired of being my own god. Tired of trying to figure out life's mysteries and the "why" behind the circumstances life has led me to. Tired of coming up empty-handed in a barren landscape of despair. I'm learning to stop fixating on understanding why I'm suffering, to fixing my focus on the One who is standing with me during my suffering.
There is a reason Jesus refers to himself as The Way. He is a God small enough to be with me through it all, and a God big enough to make a way through it. He sees all the ways—even the way I don’t yet see. Who knows the "why" even if I may never know it. A God that is setting up a thousand million ways, connecting us together for a grander purpose than we could ever hope for or imagine.
As you are finding your way through life, I dare you to imagine—to dream—bigger than your current circumstances are telling you to. To stop fixing your eyes on what is before you, but to shift them to the One who is traveling with you. Follow in the footsteps of those who have traveled this path ahead of you, who have bled and cried and teetered on the brink of ending it all, but dug deep, tapping into the divine spark within us all that allows us to find the resilience and grit to take one day at a time, choosing hope instead of despair.
There is so much more going on. Don’t give up.