Monday, November 28, 2011

A Long and Winding Road

Learning to live a totally new lifestyle, extinguish old patterns of behavior, and establish new ways of relating to God, to the self, and to others is an arduous journey.  It takes a long time.  There are many unexpected turns, many twists which make the road much longer than one would expect ... or want.  

Sometimes it appears as though I am covering much the same ground over and over again.  I didn't understand why this should be so. And then I saw a photograph of a mountain pass in the Swiss Alps.  The road seemed to fold upon itself so many times, covering what was essentially the same terrain, zig-zagging slowly up the side of the mountain.  

Source via Google Images :
I plotted a more direct route with my finger.  But that route would have been far too steep for anyone to be able to travel it either by car or by bike, much less on foot.  

Then it became clear to me. My chosen path (the one I traced with my finger) might have been shorter, but it would have been impossible. The roundabout path though, the one which seemed to take too long, was actually achievable.  

Little matter that it is a long and winding road.  If the goal is to arrive at destination, the length of the trip needn't matter as long as it can be sustained from start to finish.  

Going over the same terrain can cement lessons learned and make them a permanent part of my psyche.  That it takes so long can develop patience and give an opportunity to enjoy the journey rather than rail against how far away from the end I am. 

Does this lesson the frustration of the moment? 

Sometimes. Sometimes not.  

But it does more to give me an understanding of the road I am traveling, and it allows me to keep from beating myself up for not being as far up the mountain as I think I should be by now. 

Occasionally people misunderstand my reactions, and I fall prey to the old pattern of caring what they think instead of knowing where I am in my journey.  At such times an off-handed comment from a family member or someone close to me can really hurt.  It doesn't necessarily mean that I have not progressed.  What it means is that I'm feeling my feelings as I feel them, and not pushing them down - which is a good thing.  It also means that I've temporarily taken my eyes off my journey and have been defining myself by what others might think instead of what I know - which is not so good. Sometimes it takes such a jolt for me to realize that I've wandered off the path a bit.  Usually it's not that far off, so I can get back on track without too much trouble: an apology, a mental adjustment and re-commitment to letting go, prayer, and self-care.  

And then I can start to enjoy the scenery again. 

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