Have you ever stood physically at a crossroad?
Perhaps you were driving and got lost (although with GPS that is less likely) and had to decide which way to turn. Making the right decision is important because if you make the wrong one, you could go miles out of your way. Even worse… once you realize your mistake, you may have to backtrack past the same countryside or traffic filled streets all the way back to where you started.
But some crossroads are not physical—they are life-decision crossroads.
And, if you make a mistake, the ramifications are just as great or, perhaps greater, because going down the wrong path can lead to delays or issues that affect your life forever. And sometimes, you cannot retrace your steps as going back is not an option.
All these thoughts have played into my mind recently as I am at new crossroads. Most of the crossroads I faced the first 55 years of my life were “predictable” …what job to take; getting married; beginning a family. They often involved my making the decision or, at least, playing a role in the decision.
But since 2009, there have been two crossroads of which I had limited control and were not expected. First was a divorce that I did not want but agreed to it. Yes, I could have said no or I could have fought it longer, but when you realize the person you love no longer loves you………… well, then……. it is self-destructive to continue. I struggled with the religious aspects of this but went down that road anyway.
The second crossroad was last November when my fiancee abruptly ended our engagement and moved to Florida. Once again, I had come to crossroads and was now hurtling down an unknown road—making choices—but the road I found myself on was not of my choosing.
And today….. I find myself standing at new crossroads and this time the road to take is of my choosing. I have spent the last 9 months putting the broken pieces of my life back together. I have purchased furniture for the house; overseen various home renovations; figured out how to navigate (literally) the new roads and back-roads in my life……. and now I am standing at crossroads and the question is:
Which way do I go?
I know this much—I do not want to waste any of the time I have left. I am very cognizant that the sands of the hourglass are greater on the bottom than on the top.
At age 65, I am planning (financially) on living to age 95 but the truth is….. my genetic code says I have 10 to 12 years left. That is not a very big number. It is possible I may not see my grandchildren graduate from high school.
That is sobering and makes me clutch my heart. At first glance, numbering my days and events may seem depressing and conjures up a very bleak and black outlook.
But it is also liberating for what those numbers say to me is I do not want to waste any of my time left with clutter or meaningless noise.
Instead, I want to work towards defining and creating the legacy that will be what family and friends remember when I am no longer here.
Recently I heard two different sermons that are shaping my thoughts and I will give credit now as some of my comments below were generated from these sermons: Rev. Kenneth Swanson, St. David’s Episcopal Church—“Running Together” (http://stdavidchurch.org/media/) and Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church—“Seein’ To” (http://northpoint.org/messages/Seein-To/)
In the Andy Stanley sermon, he tells the story about their annual family group vacation (attended by 18 family members). This year one of the relatives suggested that each person give a 5-minute TED talk about topic that was very important to them and, as you can guess, with age ranges from 8 to much older, there were a variety of topics covered.
Andy shared that his son, Andrew, began his talk by saying “I want to talk about the importance of always having someone in your life who is pouring into you and someone you are pouring into” and he shared stories reflecting the effect of those experiences in his own life.
But his statement crawled all over me as in….. All. Over. Me. “I want to talk about the importance of always having someone in your life who is pouring into you and someone you are pouring into.”
At age 65, I am standing at crossroads and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and a 23-year old young man sums it up very neatly—to live a life where someone is investing in me—where there is someone or a group of people in my life to whom I can look for guidance….. someone who is ahead of me in life.
BUT, there is Part Two of his statement which is to also live a life where I am investing in someone—where I mentor or help a person or other individuals who are younger.
And the reality is ….. that cannot be done if I live a life of solitude but instead, it must be a life that is connected to a community.
Rev. Swanson points out in “Running Together” that we are called by scripture to be a part of a community. He notes that Jesus did not send his disciples out one by one but in groups of two. They entered new areas and established bonds before they tried to make changes. St. Paul never traveled alone and the first thing he did when he came to a new area was to try to create a community of faith.
But what community should I now belong to?
There are many choices—many worthy opportunities but there are also activities that could merely create noise and clutter. So, what to do with the time I have left? Do I join a church group? Do I volunteer at a local hospital? Do I become active politically? Do I try to find ways to expand my writing horizons and connect with other writers? Do I join the local senior citizens group?
This much I know….. For me, my choices have to be more than going to places where I am merely sitting and observing but needs to be a place where my hands are helping others—where we interact in a tangible way and where the strengths of mentoring and investing in each other are flowing freely in all directions.
I recently had a conversation with a stranger during lunch. One remark he made that stuck in my head was regarding the importance of “being intentional”. One cannot just let things go by or assume things will fall into place—if you want something you need to be intentional about it…. Whether it is something you need to say or something you need to do.
I realize the danger of drifting. I have been drifting for the last 9 months.
It is time to be intentional.
What about you? Are you facing crossroads? Are you trying to be intentional or, are you just drifting and hoping the choice will be thrust upon you? And, if God intended for us to be a part of a community…. Are you doing so? Are you reaching out and looking for others to mentor you? Are you doing the same for those younger or less experienced with life?
This I know…..I have 10+ years left. I sense the crossroads in front of me. I do not want to have my remaining days sucked dry with noise and clutter but I want them filled with purpose and joy.
Crossroads…. Intentionality….. Community……. Intentionality….. Crossroads
I think it is going to be an interesting journey………………..