The Journey Requires a Choice

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

The definition of the word “journey” as stated by Merriam-Webster is, “something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another.” We often use this word to describe life and rightly so. Whether it is a particular period of time in our life, or the entirety of our life, it does feel like a journey.

Sometimes we are passing through an easy stretch of the road- the sun is shining, the path is clear, birds are singing, and the scenery is beautiful. Other times the journey feels a little more like driving through the mountains in a snow storm- the wind is blowing, visibility is near zero, every inch of the road is a battle, and it feels like it might never end. Then, there are the moments when the journey is just confusing- it does not feel particularly difficult, but the next step is not particularly clear. Of course, there are about a million other scenarios I could use to describe life, but the fact is it always feels like a journey.

As we collectively go through a particularly challenging stretch of the “road” created by COVID-19 and its impact on our lives, it has led me to reflect on this idea that life is a journey. If life is a journey, what can I learn from this leg of trip? What can it teach me about how I approach the rest of the journey?

First, no matter where we are on the journey, “we” are always on the journey. In other words, we are one of the few constants on this journey called life. Whether easy or hard, smooth or rocky, enjoyable or painful, we are a  always a part of the story.

Second, we do not have to travel alone, even in the age of social distancing and quarantining. Community is incredibly important to the human soul, especially when passing through the challenging moments in life. One of the primary impediments to real community and connection is the inability to be authentic and vulnerable. This has been a huge struggle for me over the course of my life, and often unintentionally. Vulnerability is not easy and authenticity requires you to be self aware, which can be a struggle. However, true community can make all the difference in the journey.

Spiritual community is another important element of my journey. Having community with the God who created me has altered my journey in ways I cannot even describe, including the ability to have hope in challenging moments such as our current reality.

Third, every moment on the journey presents an opportunity and a choice. There are many elements of the journey that we cannot control, both good and bad. Many of the circumstances we encounter in life are not chosen. No one would have chosen to go through the COVID-19 pandemic. No one chooses to lose of a loved one or to experience loss and failure in some other way. Many good moments in life are outside of our control as well. I do not “choose” the sunny day at the beach, but I do experience it.

However, we do have a role to play in each of these moments. Whether good or bad, each leg of the journey provides an opportunity to make the most of the road ahead. This opportunity requires us to make a choice. How will we choose to walk the path ahead? What will we carry with us from the stretch of road we have already taken? How will we emerge from our current section of the journey? This choice is not always easy and, many times, does not come without pain, but neither does the alternative. This is because we are always making a choice. Whether you choose to make the most of it, or to drift through it in hopes of survival, you are making a choice.

The question then is why not take this opportunity to choose to come out of this challenging stretch of the journey even stronger and more prepared for the road ahead? You are on the journey, whether you like it or not. It might, and probably will, require some authentic community defined by vulnerability to make it happen. You are making a choice, standing still is not an option. What will you choose?

My hope and prayer is to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic even more hopeful and excited for the journey ahead. I hope the same is true for you!

– James Belt

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