I’m writing with a little course correction for us today, frankly because I need it myself. I’ve got a very ‘challenged’ sense of direction (thanks Dad!), and lately, my inner-alexa keeps repeating, “re-routing, re-routing, re-routing,” as she attempts to get me back on the main road. Turns out I keep turning aside.
My realization of this began almost a month ago when I read the following prayer:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart … See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me … back to you” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV/TPT).
Path of pain. Have you ever walked down one of those? I find I stray there pretty much daily.
For me, the path of pain is often a false narrative I’ve walked down, an untrue story I tell myself. It’s like a side trail on which I become disoriented and lost, bogged down by brambles and brush. But then again, I’ve been on some of these paths so many times, they’ve become well-worn (hello rumination) and I confuse them entirely for the right road.
But these paths of pain don’t take me anywhere I want to go. Ever. They are very consistent that way. They lead me to places like shame, isolation, and paralyzation. They are, after all, paths of pain.
I was with my spiritual director a few weeks ago and she introduced me to the unholy trinity of perfectionism, performance, and people-pleasing. Paths of pain, all. I might add to this list things such as:
- Pride, pretension, and panic
- Prejudice, possessiveness, and presumption
- Predicting, proving, and protecting
- Pushiness, pettiness, and projecting
- Politics and pandemics, anyone???
Paths. Of. Pain.
Alexa, get me out of here!! Course correction, please! Reroute me to the right road, becomes my cry, my prayer. Show me when I’m on a path of pain (because I don’t always know), and lead me home.
But here’s the thing. I don’t always heed the directions or corrections. I keep going headlong into harm. And I know I’m not alone in this. The prophet Jeremiah once penned:
“This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you said, ‘We will not walk in it'” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Stubborn souls that we are (ok, that I am!). The Voice translation says, “Stand at the crossing and consider.” I like that! Stop and think about it before you head that direction, Jen. Yes. Needed. Pause and ponder – do you really want to go there??
I believe there is an intersection where the path of pain and the path of peace cross each other, and where I get to decide which road to take. There is a stop sign there, but I’m sorry to say I don’t often heed it as I barrel down the highway of harm at an alarming speed.
“Go stand at the crossroads and look around,” The Message translation says. “Ask for directions … then take it. Discover the right route for your souls.”
Ask for directions.
Excuse me, could you please point me in the direction of …
- The path to peace
- The road to release
- The lane to love
- The trail to trust
- The highway to hope
- The footpath to forgiveness
- The avenue to acceptance
I seem to have gotten lost on this path to pain …
“Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: ‘Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go,’ whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left'” (Isaiah 30:21 Voice).
Course Correction: Our saving grace, and our Little Life Words of the week.
- On which path of pain do you frequently find yourself?
- Throughout your day, heed the stop sign at the crossroads instead of barreling right through. Take a moment to consider the path you are choosing. Ask “where the good way is” and walk in it.
- Our song of the week is: Thy Word by Amy Grant.
- See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to You.