A couple of years ago, my parents were on their annual vacation! Only this time, they decided to drive across the county and see the sights of this great land! They had a great time and enjoyed the extended vacation and seeing so many wonderful and new things! They also saw some of the original and fun people in this land! What a great trip! Then, they told me an interesting story about their trip!
This experience has caused me to ponder about the roads I am heading down in my life. I am also reflecting on how well I see the signs of the times we are really in! Am I really on track? Am I really noticing what I need to notice?
My parents were headed on what appeared to be the only highway to get them to their next destination. They were making good progress. Then, they saw the first sign. It said, “Road closed in 25 miles.” So, what did they do? They kept driving. I mean everyone else was too! Surely there is something they know and we are safe to just follow them. So, they pressed on thinking nothing of it. Then comes the next sign, “Road closed in 20 miles.” Again, thinking nothing of it and observing other people speeding onward without seeming a care in the world, they kept going.Well, the same sign came at 15 miles, then 10 miles, and then 5 miles. And you guessed it! When they got through the final 5 miles they saw the final sign: “Road Closed.” And you know what? They were surprised. They were upset. They were frustrated. How can this be they asked themselves and each other. How can the only road and the road we need be closed? What do we do now?
I have to be careful here because I really do not know if my parents read my articles or not! However, I think there is a lesson in this story. How often do we keep going down the road at top speed not paying heed to the signs that are telling us we need to change course or directions? How many times do we look to others for how we should conduct ourselves and keep speeding on right with the crowd? Finally, how many times do we do we get frustrated and blame others when our own choices brought us to this dead end?
I think there are three things we can remember to help us avoid hitting the dead end, choosing our own course, and seeing the signs. We need to plan with purpose, pay attention to priorities, and practice accountability.
Plan with Purpose
It is too easy to speed down the road of life without a plan or sense of purpose! Of course, this might be nice for a wanderlust trip, but certainly is not best for life choices about which roads we go down. We need to be careful to look carefully at where we want to go, how we are going to get there, and how we will handle the set-backs and detours that will surely come.
What core values really are at the heart of who you are and why you do what you do?
A life of conviction and purpose requires that we plan, plan again, and prepare to adjust our plans. We do this always keeping in mind our purpose. Why are we here? Where are we striving to go? How can we best get there with our integrity and honor intact? This requires a strong sense of our values. If you have not taken my challenge in the past to identify your values and then let them be the lights that point out the roads ahead of you, then I encourage you to do so. What core values really are at the heart of who you are and why you do what you do? Then, ask if you are making choices and conducting your life in agreement with those values. Does the road you are traveling really reflect who you profess to be? Plan with that purpose in mind. Then, let’s get going!
Pay Attention to Priorities
I cannot be sure, but I think the Department of Transportation chose the color orange for its construction signage for a reason. I believe there is an effort to get our attention and warn us of potential delays and detours. Of course, we have all seen some orange signs and there did not appear to be any work going on. We have all seen the “Men Working” sign and not been able to find a soul in sight! However, we need to make sure we are not letting these experiences lead us to complacency or careless speeding down the road.
Paying attention to priorities is always important. An orange sign on the road may not always signal an actual concern, but we had better pay heed! In life, I believe, we will always get a warning of some sort when we are about to head down the wrong road. It may come in the form of a sign, counsel from a friend or leader or parent, and in something we read or see. The best signal may just be a gut feeling. An orange sign is a priority to pay attention to in life. Whatever those orange signs are that flash to you on your journey down the road, I exhort you to give heed to them. Make sure you are paying attention to the most important things. Give heed to your priorities always!
My parents chose to drive down that road. They chose to ignore the signs or talk themselves out of paying attention to them. My parents made the choice to follow what the other drivers are the road were doing. They chose to not stop and create an alternative plan or decide a better course. They chose to keep going. I have done this too! I think we all have!
We live in a world and at a time where blaming is a daily occurrence–where few if any really want to take responsibility for their choices and actions.
However, there is a temptation in these moments to blame someone else for the dead-end and delay we come up against. We could blame the Department of Transportation, the President of the United States, our Mother-in-law, the cat and a host of others. We live in a world and at a time where blaming is a daily occurrence–where few if any really want to take responsibility for their choices and actions. It is just so tempting to try to save face by pointing the finger at someone else. Yet, when we make the choice to ignore the signs, speed continually down the road, and follow others to the same dead end, we truly have no one to blame but ourselves. We made the choice. We stepped on the gas. We justified and excused ourselves in not paying heed to the signs and signals before us. In more than we want to admit, we are responsible for where we are on the road. Not all dead-ends and detours and road blocks are our fault, but we need to be better at looking to self rather than someone else.
Let’s face it! It is easy to blame others. But, that never gets us anywhere. We feel bad inside. Others (especially if we have blamed them) feel bad. No one feels good when blame is the game. We all feel better when we own it, take it on ourselves, and work for solutions. It is just a better way to live! Blaming is never good! It never helps! It is not worth it!
Let’s get back on the road!
So, plan your life with purpose, pay attention to priorities, and practice accountability. As you head down the roads of life, you cannot always control what road blocks and detours will be in your way. You can be assured however, that you are making the best choices as you head on your way!
Let’s get going!