The Broken Road: How difficult times can lead us right where we need to be



The older I get, the less I fear making mistakes…and the more I realize that mistakes and failure are all part of life’s incredible journey. It may sting and feel awful sometimes when you’re going through the hard parts, but oh, what wisdom you emerge with on the other side!

The road of life is not a direct path for most of us. It’s filled with twists and turns that we never anticipated. It will jolt us, startle us, and shake us awake until we give in to it – to the realization that we’re not in control of everything…. life is unfolding before us, and we are just along for the ride.

Nobody told me there would be days like these

I grew up as an only child in a loving household in 1970s North Carolina. There were relatives to enjoy time with, kids to play outside with, and time just to be me and love life. Coming from a place like that, I thought that things would continue this way – that I would grow up and always be happy. That was the message I received as a young girl. Everything will always be wonderful for you!

Well, friends, when reality slaps you in the face….it slaps you hard. Life was not going to be perfect; there were to be large, nearly impossible hurdles to climb, pits to crawl out of, broken hearts, unbearable changes, depression, regret, the whole lot…and I was not prepared.

With failure comes success

No one likes to fail because we have been taught that failing is a bad thing. Well, let me say from experience… it’s not true! You will have failure in your life. The important thing is to learn from it.

Every day you should attempt to move out of your comfort zone, make mistakes and learn something new. People tend to equate failing temporarily with permanent failure…but just because you haven’t reached your goal today doesn’t mean you will never reach it.

With learning comes growth

We make terrible mistakes…mistakes that are hard to recover from. For me, those mistakes included marrying the wrong person and moving across the country only to find that the job I moved for was not what I had expected. Each time you have to correct something big like this, your life shifts, your path changes, and you learn more about yourself and the journey you’re on. It’s not pleasant! It takes time, energy, willpower, money, support, and strength of character to recover from these things. But there is growth and ultimately, it is good.

You will mold yourself into the person you want to be

Though all of these difficult experiences may feel like they break you at the time, the aftermath will build you back up in an entirely new way. You will emerge as someone different, better equipped to handle the next challenge. Failure and disappointment and the grief that results plants deep empathy and compassion within us so that we can better understand life and the world around us. These “mistakes” simply become learning experiences which fine-tune our lives.

Always practice gratitude…even when you see nothing to be grateful for

There were many times when I thought God had forgotten me. In hindsight, I see he was really just holding me close, protecting me from things that were not meant to be. Things that were not my final destination. I didn’t feel grateful then because I couldn’t see what was happening. I thought my life was ruined, but really, I just needed to be patient.

My life is far from perfect now, but when I lay my head down at night, my heart overflows with gratitude because of where I am, where I’ve come from, and the things I left behind.

Sometimes I think I don’t deserve this much love, this much goodness, and this much grace. But I came through a lot to be here, and I will be thankful every day.

What I learned from my broken road is that the end of one road just means the beginning of a new and, most often, better road! The broken roads you travel in life may be hard sometimes, but they are the stepping-stones that lead you to the places you are meant to be.

 


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