Friday, November 7, 2014

The Tangled Path

Everyone has a path to walk, a journey to make, a story to tell. Some days, the road is clear. Our story goes according to plan. The appointments on the calendar come to pass, just as we intended. We travel confidently, not fearing what lies ahead.

Other days, the bottom drops out. In a split second, everything changes and nothing goes according to plan. The notes on the calendar must be drawn through and rewritten on another date, if at all. Without warning, we find ourselves on a tangled path, unsure of even our next step.

When life makes a sudden turn, or screeches to a halt, it leaves you disoriented, afraid. And sometimes, despite our best efforts to get back to where we were before, we can’t go back. We are here, and there’s nowhere else to go. We’re faced with a new normal, whether we want it or not.

The same life that can fill us up with joy, can also be hard and cruel. Our lives can change forever, due to no fault of our own. Parents divorce, leaving innocent children to deal with the fallout that never ends. A husband is told he has cancer, and a handful of months to live. A drunk driver crashes into a car, taking the life of a loved one. A careless driver runs into innocent people on a sidewalk, altering their physical abilities forever. Such tragedies are almost impossible to bear.

Other times, our lives are changed forever by our own actions. I remember when my dad, at the age of 85, climbed on the roof one time too many. This time, the ladder broke and down he came. His fall resulted in a grave injury to his ankle; the doctor said he might never walk again, said he might need an amputation, said it would be a difficult recovery for a 20-year-old man, let alone an 85-year-old man.

I recall my sister wringing her hands in anguish and asking, “Why did this have to happen? Why now, after so many years?” And my mom’s answer to her was simple and straightforward: “It happened because of gravity.” Yes, that was it in a nutshell, but to think that my dad might not walk again was something I couldn't wrap my head around.

But I remember the night that I adjusted my perspective. I couldn't let myself think too far ahead; I had to get through this moment, this day, this long and tiring night. It was the only thing I could do, unless I wanted to be miserable from this point on.

And when I did that, when I adjusted my perspective, when I got over the fact that I had to put my life on hold for an indefinite amount of time, when I accepted that my dad may have walked his last mile, that God had allowed this to happen, when I embraced what could not be changed, a curious thing happened: I stopped fretting. We would get through this, one painful step at a time. And I began cherishing the time spent with my parents, shuffling around a house with no television, no Internet, drinking coffee every morning with them, sitting on the porch together, watching my husband push my father here and there in a wheelchair, helping him with daily necessities. And as we played games at the kitchen table, or I planned the next meal with my mother, I knew I'd been given a priceless gift, just being there, helping them cope, sharing their space.

Another gift that came out of this tragedy was having friends all over the country hold us up in prayer. Prayer can move mountains. This, I know to be true, and it was an amazing feeling knowing people were praying.

Three months after Daddy’s fall, he took his first halting and painful step. He needed assistance, and his ankle, held together with metal rods and pins, hurt something awful, but he was determined to walk again. Soon after that first step, he and Mom felt they were ready to travel the road ahead on their own, and it was a bittersweet day when we rolled out of the driveway and waved goodbye. I cried, for reasons hard to explain, but mostly because my life had been enriched and blessed by sharing in their time of suffering.

Oh, the hours wasted kicking against the hard places, wishing we could turn back the hands of the clock. I have been guilty of doing that myself in recent months.

But ifinstead of fighting the detours, and the inevitable changes they bringwe can adjust our thinking and embrace what is, we will be strengthened, and the journey will reveal gifts in the most unexpected places.

I believe—and time has proven to me—that the best stories come from the tangled paths.  



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This post is part of the series Spiritual Sundays


26 comments:

  1. This is so beautifully written. My husband and I were talking about something along this line today and this really helps with my understanding. Enjoy your weekend my friend! Hugs, Diane

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  2. This, Dayle, is something I needed to hear tonight. A son marrying, a daughter moving, it's all on my path right now. I'm trying to enjoy each and every moment, even the crying ones. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. So true. We had a man in our congregation suffer a stroke. Six mos. later he shared his gratitude with the us for all the prayers. He said at last he knows personally what it means when he would hear someone say, 'your prayers carried me'.

    I needed to hear this tonight. thank-you

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  4. Oh- Yes- it is those tangled paths and bittersweet moments that change and often enrich our lives in unexpected ways. Sometimes it is really hard to see the blessing---to begin to understand the WHY of it all. There are still times I look back at things that happened in my life and wonder WHAT was the lesson that I was suppose to learn there.

    I love how tenacious your Dad was/is and that he came so far in spite of his prognosis. Blessings- xo Diana

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    1. I believe there are some questions of, 'Why?" that have no earthly answer.

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  5. There is much wisdom in your words. Looking back on difficult times that at the time seemed a confusing mess, God was doing a deep work in us and also leading us to places we never dreamed of.

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  6. Touching piece today, Dayle.

    I was just thinking about your dad the other day... because my 83 year old father-in-law climbed on top of a chair to swat a fly and fell CRASH onto the floor. We are an ocean away and felt helpless. Fortunately, not a single bone was broken and an ankle was merely sprained. My sister-in-law her mother absolutely lost it because Dad blacked out and she feared he had died, just like that.

    I'm glad your dad's much better now and that the tangled paths will teach us a thing or two about trusting in a trustworthy God. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

    Hugs and happy weekend,
    Kelley~

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  7. Oh what a beautiful post, every word written deliberate and thought-provoking. I love your perception of the tangled road. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've walked that road with my parents. It was a very difficult one and yes, I had a good 2 years to enjoy some quality time with them.

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  8. Dayle, your words are priceless and to be cherished. When I read them, I feel as though I have been given a gift. Of insight, of suffering, of learning, of being. Hard to learn to just be. I'm on that ankle path myself. Tethered to the bed and growing frustrated because I can't water the plants, do what I feel needs to be done. I have to learn to just "be" and that is hard for me. Thank you for your gift of words.
    Brenda

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  9. When I read this, I wondered how you knew my circumstance and my chest tightened as I began to panic. Of course you don't know, but it was amazing that once again I felt like it was written just for me. I'm going to print this one and read it every day. It will help me through the days and months to come. Prayers appreciated. I love you dearly, Sister-friend.

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    1. I know nothing, dear sister/friend, but know that I love you and will pray daily for you. I'm only a phone call or text or email away, and will hop in the car and be at your front door if you say the word.

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  10. * Thank you * Thank you * Thank you * Thank you!!
    A million times over for this post.

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  11. Wow...what truth and wisdom in these words, Dayle. It has been during times similar to those you described when I have felt the Lord's presence stronger than ever. Thank you writing this beautiful encouraging post, friend.

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  12. Hi Dayle, What a wonderful and wise post. I have been in this place and I learned how to cherish the moments of the present and there is a reason everything happens the way it does in God's time and plan. Maybe to slow us down a bit to cherish each day we have with our loved ones and circumstances. In the end the difficulties we encounter turn out to be a gift. Thank you for sharing your heart and story!
    Blessings to you my friend.
    Hugs

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  13. LOVE this...(and I somehow almost missed it!) and soo true and beautifully written as always. It has been those twisted, hard and rocky roads that have brought about the changes and closeness to Him that has been truly life changing.

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  14. "Dayle Allen Shockley" has been included in our A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that we hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-sunday-drive_9.html

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  15. Hello Dayle. Loved your analogy. Guess we all traverse tangled paths, now and again, or we wouldn't be human. You are so right that they all have lessons for us to learn. We must just be willing. Susan

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  16. Dayle, this was such a wonderful post - one that had me nodding my head in agreement through it all. Yes, life is a tangled path, and we often are caught unaware by the twists and turns that come upon us suddenly.

    However, if we follow Jesus, we will never get lost - nor will we ever wander off the Narrow Way, even if it's twisty!

    GOD BLESS!

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  17. Already, I'm sensing this post is something that will stay with me. Wonderful.
    ... and thank you.

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  18. Another amazing post.
    I am smiling out loud at your mom - “It happened because of gravity.”

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    1. Her answer is so typical of her realistic views. She makes me smile, too. :)

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  19. I am so thankful I came by to read today. I've been walking a tangled path since my lay off last month, not know what is up ahead. "When life makes a sudden turn, or screeches to a halt, it leaves you disoriented, afraid. And sometimes, despite our best efforts to get back to where we were before, we can’t go back. We are here, and there’s nowhere else to go. We’re faced with a new normal, whether we want it or not." - I want to learn to embrace my new normal. I know that God has a plan.

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  20. Hi Dayle! Wow, this post really blends well with mine doesn't it? The Beauty of Becoming, and loving the road. They are twins I think!
    What a tender story of your love and help to your parents. Truly you answered God's call and helped them gain their independence again. And what a gift that they accepted your help! Many people do not, thinking they can get it all done themselves...when they really can't. God bless you and your family, may God continue to bless you with his healing love.
    Wednesday blessings,
    Ceil

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  21. Oh that last line truly says it all dear Dayle! Our stories are made up of the adventures and sometimes misadventures we face.

    Have a beautiful week!

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