When I go out running, the best, most exciting runs involve finding new routes – new ways of getting places. To a certain extent, you can plan to find these unexplored tracks by looking at a map. But the best trails can’t be seen on a map. They need to be found on foot.
Likewise, to find the best in life, we need to combine both knowledge and faith.
These tracks remain undiscovered for most. It takes courage to follow a trail when you don’t know where it will lead. You might have to turn back. You may get lost. It could turn out to be a waste of time and energy.
And there usually comes a point where the track becomes very difficult and overgrown – a place where turning back feels like it’ll be the best option. Yet, I’ve found that often, this is the moment right before breakthrough – one last push and you’re out.
It’s then that you realise where you are and can see how all that came before makes sense.
Exploring a new path I’m stepping out in faith a bit this year. After 11 years of teaching, I’m taking leave to explore a new path. I anticipate there’ll be disruption and times of wondering what I was thinking. Leaving a secure job could be seen as reckless.
But I think that, while we shouldn’t go down every side trail we see, we shouldn’t ignore that nagging pull towards something that fits better.
Like cleaning out the top shelf of your cupboard or pulling out the Christmas decorations, mess is a necessary part of achieving anything worthwhile.
But it should also be temporary. Battling through muck endlessly for no reason, without a goal in sight, is not something to celebrate. There needs to be a purpose, a destination and a light at the end.
So, in some ways, where you are right now is not as important as where you’re wanting to get to. Jumbling your life up or taking a blind detour for the sake of it won’t end well. What keeps us going on the right track is the glimpse of a brighter future.
So, when you end up in the wilderness, either by choice or circumstances beyond your control, it becomes a positive place when you’re fixing your attention on getting to that better place.
Those who know the feeling of the last piece finally falling into place, or achieving the hope that for so long seemed a long way off, will tell you that it was all worth it.
Don’t let the mess deter you from chasing the vision for how things could be.
And don’t confuse short-term stillness for peace. Ignoring problems may keep everybody happy for a while, but it will usually end in explosive disaster. Instead, choose to plough through the struggle and nagging doubts with courage and integrity. Even if it means a period of deconstructing all that seemed stable … if not quite right.
Author – Tom Anderson
Tom is a husband, father, teacher and long-distance runner. He enjoys an Indian curry, drives a French car and doesn’t mind a bit of English television. Tom enjoys playing sports of all kinds and dabbles in photography and design. He likes to listen to people’s stories.