shutterstock_135699662Do 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. shutterstock_158132312I 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.

shutterstock_691271There 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.


A Path or a Pile of Bricks?

shutterstock_15701413I recently came across the following quote: “Sometimes in life you have to choose between two paths; other times all you get is a pile of bricks, and the path you build is up to you.”  After the past couple of months of trying to decide which way to go, it certainly feels like there has been nothing but ton after ton of bricks piled up in front of me.

So often in life we come to times of decision and tend to think it is an “either or” option, even when there may be other options available.  It is natural for us to go through a process of elimination until we are left with two choices, and then try to figure out which is best…or in some cases, which is the lesser of two evils.  Most of us were raised to make decisions by looking at our options, weighing the pros and cons and then choosing the one that will bring the best results.  I’m not saying there is anything inherently wrong with this approach, as sometimes it can help immensely to take emotion out of it and “count the cost” of the journey on which we consider embarking.   Counting is not always bad and reasoning is not always wrong, but when we limit ourselves to only those paths that have already presented themselves to us or have been sanctioned by the people around us (whether family, friends, churches, or coworkers), then we have lost something very valuable in the midst.

shutterstock_32845126Life is not always black and white, and sometimes it can get a little messy.   We may experience unrest that causes us to feel compelled to make a change.  We may feel like the only way to gain our balance is to do something different, so we start looking for our “options.”  When we start down this path, we must be careful because it usually involves relying on our human reasoning and rationale.  Our human reasoning is often tainted greatly by our emotions.  When faced with a decision, we often choose the path that “feels” better.  We often choose the most lucrative path or the one that seems to be more logical.  We don’t often choose to stay on a path that may be temporarily uncomfortable because we don’t like pain or discomfort.  We get angry, frustrated, disheartened or even depressed about our current situation and start looking for a way out of it.  When we start looking for a way out, we naturally look for which path we should choose.

But what if it’s not about “choosing” a path but building one?

What if we took the mountain of bricks in front of us and build a path with them rather than looking for a way around them or how to remove them?  What if we started building instead of walking?  What if we put on our figurative headphones and listened to the music of that still small voice within instead of the overwhelming cacophony of noise that comes from everyone around us?  What if the bricks in front of us aren’t obstacles at all, but the exact materials we need in order to accomplish things greater than we could have imagined?

shutterstock_113875279It is so easy to get lost in the circumstances of life.  Sometimes we get hurt or disappointed.  Sometimes we feel unappreciated or mistreated.  Sometimes we get so disillusioned with things we previously had confidence in that it rattles us to the core.  Every negative experience or uncomfortable situation is another brick tossed in front of us.  When we find ourselves in these times, as I have been lately, it is so important to go back to what you know to be true and hold on to those things.  Get back to your guiding principles and let your heart and spirit settle for a bit before you go charging out onto a path that may or may not be best for you.  Maybe you (or I, in this case) need to see our difficulties not as something to work around but to work with.  Maybe we need to see all the many things that are going “wrong” in our lives as the bricks we need in order to build a road that leads us to places we could not reach any other way.

Life is complex and we are constantly presented with circumstances (or people) that test our faith and resolve.  We are faced with situations that leave us reeling, and we feel as though we just can’t take any more.  We get wounded to a point where we think we will not recover.  Lately I have questioned almost everything in my own life and have decided it is time to stop looking for a path to choose, but to build one.  It is time to follow where I am called, no matter where it leads.  It is time to take the bricks that for months have seemed to be piled everywhere and start fitting them together in whatever manner God leads me to place them.  It is a new kind of art, a new kind of creativity.

shutterstock_104872121So if you are wondering which way to go or are struggling with decisions in life, take heart.  If you are truly seeking clarity, you will find it.  If you truly want to know which way to go, you must first be willing to go.  When your heart is finally willing, and you are ready to give up your own reasoning and trust God for the results, one of two things will happen:  Either it will become clear which path to take, or you will suddenly see your pile of “bricks” as the exact stones you need to forge the path to exactly where you are called to be.