Monday, September 10, 2012

The Shorter Path May Not Always be the BEST Path!

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. While this is true, I am not fully convinced that the best path is always the shortest distance. How many times have you been out on a hike and you could go straight through to the end of the path, but if you take some of the side paths along the way you find all sorts of beautiful things? It may be much more efficient to take the straight path, but how much learning and experiences might you miss by skipping the side paths? Is it really the most important thing to save time or should we take the time to see beauty and learn lessons along the path of life?

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Sometimes life doesn't make sense. There are so many things that happen in this world that seem are so unfair. The truth is there are things that are unfair and unjust in this life. We live in a fallen world. Things don't always go how we plan, or how we want them to go. Sometimes it takes a circuitous path to get to where God eventually wants us. Does that mean that those "side paths" are bad? Yes, sometimes we disobey and go a direction that God doesn't want us to go. But,  He can use those disobedient moments and use them for our growth and development in our faith. Sometimes we have to face consequences because of our bad decisions, but God can still use them for our good. Sometimes the "side paths" are just an indirect route that God uses to get us to where He eventually wants us to be. That is what I have experienced this summer. It can be really discouraging along the way wondering if we are ever going to get there.

I have been going through the process of finding a counselor since May. The counselor I had seen last fall was on maternity leave and so I needed to find someone else. In the process I have been to a total of four different counselors since May. Each time, I have had to go over the issues that have brought me there... talking about the past, the hurts, the disappointment, the heartbreak... over and over and over again. It would be really easy to be frustrated and upset that I hadn't found someone to establish some continuity and progress with. There have been times that I have been frustrated and upset. But, even through the process, and especially now, I can look at it and see how each person I saw along the way taught me something about God, about myself, about life.

 I saw someone today who I have a very good feeling might be the counselor I stick with for the long term. While I am thankful to have arrived at this point, I look back at the past few months with gratitude. I am not in the same place I was at the end of the summer. My self awareness has improved greatly. My faith has been strengthened immensely. I have dealt with adversity and difficulties that have come up in much better ways.

This has been a wonderful lesson to me of how God truly works everything for good. What challenges have you faced in your life? Have there been instances where God has led you on a circuitous route that you have found frustrating? Can you look back on it today and see how God has used it for good?

May we all be challenged to a greater hope and faith in our great God, trusting that He can use all of those "side paths" to show us much beauty and teach us many lessons.

Counting my blessings,


Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Defines Me?

When I finished the DM Marathon in 2010, I was barely across the finish line when I posted on Facebook... "I am a marathoner" I was so excited to be able to say that. It may have taken me almost 7 hours, but I still did it - 26.2 miles! Running has become an integral part of my life. I LOVE to run. I may be slow, but I love it. There is nothing like the adrenaline rush of going out and pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do. It's good for my health: physical, emotional, and spiritual; it's great to get out and enjoy the nature and beauty all around us; it's fun to participate in road races with other people and encourage each other along the way. But, at the end of the day, at the end of my life, do I really want people to say, "Sherri, yeah, she was a runner. She was a marathoner." "NO!"
At the end of the day, at the end of my life, I want people to say, "Sherri, yeah, she loved God. She was really kind, she was full of joy and peace." More than anything I want my life to be remembered for being a follower of Christ. I want His love to be so alive in me that it just overflows in everything I say and do. I don't want to be defined by my running. I want to be defined by the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Due to circumstances, some within my control, and some beyond my control my running has not gone how I have wanted this year. I had a lot of goals set out before me and at the end of the year none of them will be accomplished. I talked about these goals in a previous blog post:

Well, now I have walking pneumonia and at this point don't even know if I'll be able to do the 1/2 marathon I am registered for. I am planning on doing whatever I can training-wise between now and then and hopefully I will be able to do it. But, I have been reminded this week that no matter what - even if I don't do it, that isn't what defines me. I am a child of God, I am the daughter of the King. That is what defines me!

Pressing on with faith and hope,