Do you ever have times in your life where things are swirling around you at such a terrible pace that you seem to just run off the rails? I read a definition of the word “derail” that said it is “to be deflected from a purpose or direction, permanently or temporarily.” When I read it, I couldn’t help but think of how things have been in my own world lately.
I’ve always said that sometimes life hits us with the most unexpected situations and leaves us absolutely reeling. We are shaken and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it becomes to find our footing to stand strong. When these situations involve the people closest to us, it makes it that much harder to not get discouraged or depressed by what is going on around us. I say “we,” but maybe I should just speak for myself here. I know what I believe…about life and about God. I hold to those truths in the very core of my being but sometimes things happen that put a cloud between my heart and soul, and I find myself foundering, even though I still look like I am “on track” to most people.
Difficulties are often a private thing and, as such, we try to keep on going even when we are at the end of our rope. We push ourselves to keep performing at work. We tell ourselves we have responsibilities to fulfill at home or even in church. We just keep plowing ahead with a determination that is sometimes detrimental to our well-being. We’ve told ourselves that the only way to get through something is to keep going, so we keep pushing harder and harder, even when our bodies start telling us to stop. We start breaking down physically and mentally. Our emotions become harder to contain and yet we just keep going! We will do anything to keep from stopping the motion because it seems like if we stop, we will be overtaken by everything that is around us. The thought of it pushes us even harder. We hit the accelerator in hopes that we can just power through whatever presents itself.
And then it happens…
We come into a curve too fast and suddenly find ourselves running of the rails. Suddenly, the damage is unavoidable and we realize we’ve lost the ability to “maintain” any longer. We are derailed.
Recently I experienced this pattern in my own life. Things happened that rattled my world and created troublesome situations in the most grounding areas of my life. The unrest it created spiritually, both internally and even within my home, was something that felt too painful to withstand. I questioned things and began to wonder not only how it all would settle down, but when. I tried to just keep going and consciously reminded myself of the truth of God’s promises that eventually everything works out for our ultimate good. I tried to get up and go to work and do the best job I could for a company I love, even though I felt as though it didn’t matter. I kept up my daily routines at home and church and kept powering through the emotions that kept hitting me in the face in every realm. I just kept going…and going. I just wanted so badly to get through things that I hit the accelerator into a curve and went flying off the rails. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to breathe. I just wanted to crawl into a hole, curl up into a tiny little ball and hide from everything. I just couldn’t take one more thing. If I couldn’t stop the world around me, then my only choice was to stop myself.
Derailments are an interesting process. They can be massive, with devastating injuries and destruction or they can be minor, with only some small adjustments needed to get the train back on track. They can require long periods of clean-up or almost none at all. It all depends on how far off the rails things go…or how fast you’re going when you leave the tracks. For me, I was so concerned with getting to the end of the line that I ignored the danger signs that kept popping up in front of me. Maybe I thought I had the ability to manage the track without adhering to the warnings. Maybe I thought people around me would think I was weak for slowing down. Maybe I just wanted to keep moving because I thought it’s what was expected of me. No matter the reason, it resulted in more difficulties than it resolved and caused me to have to stop for a while to rest, regain my bearings and let God repair the track.
There are some situations in life that we cannot change. People disappoint us or have perspectives we cannot agree with. Our loved ones may be dealing with their own situations or derailments and it can cause distance between us for a while. We may feel alone and even abandoned as we journey through these times, but sometimes it is exactly what we need in our own lives in order to grow and become who we are created to be. There are some things we must all journey through alone so that we come out on the other side with a strength, understanding and courage that does not come any other way.
So if you are experiencing your own derailment, don’t beat yourself up. Take this time to step back and rest while the track is being repaired. Use this time to assess the situation, and yourself, so that it can actually become beneficial for you.
And if are dangerously close to derailing, look up. Heed the warnings and proceed with caution. If you do, you will soon find that the next sign you see is the one telling you exactly which way to go.