We may often feel like the journey of our lives is full of "highs and lows," or "best and worst experiences." I've often heard the analogy of "mountain top and valley experiences." In fact, there have been times in my life when I've actually felt like a yo-yo — swinging up and down as I reacted to what I perceived as highs and lows in life. When I use that analogy for life, I find my emotions swinging up and down with every changing life experience!
As I've been reflecting on 2020, I've realized that life has actually been more like railroad tracks.
Both good times and challenging times have been running parallel throughout this season—the good and bad moving side by side throughout the year we called 2020. On one track we faced things like political unrest and COVID—with the disappointments and very real tragedies it brought us, including the death of Bob's sister, Anne. On the other track, though, we discovered a slower, more grace-filled pace of life, allowing time to think about what is truly most important to us, and to pursue things we had put off doing.
So when life takes me around an unforeseen corner and I find myself facing a disappointment or difficult challenge, one side might be considered the "hard track" or a "bad track. In contrast, the other side might be considered the "good track" as I discover the blessing God has for me in that challenging moment. As we "round a bend to unforeseen territory," both tracks are there. As I reflect on the railroad track analogy, I'm finding it's more about "my mindset in the middle." The middle is where I recognize God is in control no matter what. It's the place where I choose to trust Him. Jesus reminds me, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It's up to me to choose where my focus will be as I look at things from the middle— Will I focus on the bad? Or on the good?
Using the railroad track analogy to look back on my life, I can recognize the blessing of focusing on the good track as I journeyed around all kinds of bends in uncharted territories. For example, when I faced an illness it felt like I was traveling in the dark; it almost derailed me as I started to lean and focus on the "bad track" that brought pain, fear, and anxiety. But when it was pointed out to me that I needed to re-align my thinking with God's Word, I chose to travel down the center, between the tracks. And I chose to refocus my attention. I intentionally turned my eyes to the "good track." As I slowly traveled for months around that unknown curve, I began to recognize God's blessing as I focused on the good track — His closeness, His mercy, and His grace carrying me through that phase of my journey. Oh, don't get me wrong! The "bad track" was still there all right! But as my focus shifted, so did my outlook on life. And as my mind-set changed, eventually even my physical body responded to the peace that God provided for me during that season.
What about you? Are you ready for the wild ride of life heading into 2021? What will you choose to do?
I've made a decision for 2021. During this time when people are making all kinds of resolutions and setting all kinds of goals, I've simply chosen to make a decision ahead of time. I've decided that as I approach each new curve on the tracks of life in 2021, I will choose to remain in the center, recognizing that good and bad are running parallel. And I will choose to focus on the "good track," recognizing and acknowledging God's blessings and encouraging others as I praise God for the journey!
To learn more about the journey that most drained me, read For My Life.