A million years ago, or five, I sat down in the office of a really wise man who taught me about navigating road blocks. I went to see him because I needed life and death information. And I wondered about faith. And I needed to know what was up with God. And, well, he was the closest person I knew in proximity to God. He made time for me to lay out my mess. So five-ish years ago I piled into his office with my baby in tow and I poured out my heart about life’s trajectory.
My only prayer had ever been to be moving on the right path in life, whatever that was. He asked me about that. Remaining calm in the face of a whirlwind of words and questions, he suggested I pray for road blocks instead of the path. Counter intuitive, I thought. Pray for problems rather than solutions. He explained how a rock in the middle of a river makes the water go around. Water doesn’t necessarily follow the same path throughout its course. Sometimes it meanders, but it always navigates a new way. Never were truer words spoken. I gathered his prayers in my pocket and dawdled a bit waiting for the river to push me downstream.
He was gently telling me to try something different. Water is fluid and sometimes we are not. I continued to struggle with the path and my direction, wondering about purpose, despite his best efforts. I kept the road blocks in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t aware of them in my path. I wrote, last week, about the upending of our lives and how it put our family back together. It was only after, I was able to understand what he was trying to tell me. It made me laugh out loud at the obvious way things had been working in my life. After we got creative with our problem solving, we were able to move forward. We couldn’t do life the same way. We had to change our thinking. We needed to do things differently.
Whether or not I was aware of them, the roadblocks had been there just as I had asked. Barriers force us to stop and consider our next move, to get creative. They make us work around to find solutions. My road blocks were the elephant in the room. I was so focused on getting down the right path that I never stopped to consider what stood in my way. It took five years for me to see them for what they were: a catalyst for change. The only path forward was to do something that felt counterintuitive; different. I had to have faith that the outcome would be “the path” even though it was not obvious where I was going.
All these years later, I chuckled in my car to think about this man I once knew who changed my life by offering road blocks instead of a path. In ways, the complexity of life is simple. I am amazed at how we ignore the obvious to do things the same way over and over again, how these challenging situations force us to grow and get creative with our solutions. We can face obstacles and work around them or we can ignore them while they continue to hinder our progress. We were not meant for an easy and nebulous journey, we were made for something different. We were created to change and grow, not stay the same. The course of our lives is subject to diversion, it’s navigating the road blocks that sets our path.