Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sometimes Faith is Not a Leap, But a Step

"More than any other time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to utter despair and hopelessness; the other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." --Woody Allen

Whether on a global--or individual--scale, sometimes it feels as though we're left with those two paths that only Woody Allen in his eternal optimism could elucidate. Foregoing the global picture, I ask you for these few minutes to consider the trajectory of your individual life, and I'll give thought to mine.

Some--maybe a lot--of my life and choices are heading in a good direction. If I'm honest with myself, though, there are areas where SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!! If something doesn't significantly change, at the very least I will experience debilitating disappointment, and, at the worst, the possibility of crashing and burning.

Have you ever had the experience of starting a new direction, beginning a new interest, or charting a different moral or ethical course and after a period of time you stopped? Maybe you haven't given up, but you quit taking steps that were moving you in your intended direction. My inclination is to coast, to hit the cruise button, and consequently end up drifting. Spinning wheels might be exhilarating in a muscle car, but it's exhausting in life.

I came across an acronym several years ago. I posted it on our frig as a warning to self:


If You Always Do What You Always Did
, You Always Get What You Always Got.

It's an ongoing battle for me (has been for years) to break out of either my comfort zone or depressive lethargy. I used to carry in my wallet a four-line rhyme that served to jump-start me out of my tendency to become immobilized. It went something like, "For years he trod a narrow groove that few would find fulfilling; which just goes to prove stagnation must be thrilling." I know. "Cheery thought, Steve. "

We have to break out of our narrow grooves. Years ago, I sought the counsel of a wise therapist in Colorado. I was in a bleak and immobilized state (of mind, not of Illinois.) I chose to drive out there. In the midst of the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains I was contemplating my life. As I'm driving through the mountains I look ahead and see that the Interstate goes right through this mountain. I then see a huge sign giving all travellers an alert:


I was so taken aback by the message I nearly crashed in the tunnel. What a metaphor! I wondered if I even needed to talk with this therapist; the sign itself was nearly life-changing. My nature is to stop. I become fearful; I stop. I'm confused; I stop. Depressed? I stop.

We may pause, but we can't afford to stop. And we can't do what we always did.

Hope is rekindled when I take one step--a different step. Today. I don't have to have tomorrow, next week, next year figured out. Today. What is one step you can take today that would constitute movement, rather than doing what you always did? One step today would mean you took your life out of Park or Neutral, and shifted into Drive.

The Scriptures advise, "This day, choose. . . " One step, one choice, one decision, and you will disrupt the depressing dance of my frig acronym. Today, to be able to say, "I didn't do what I always did" could lead to a dance of delight. And dancing is all about steps.

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