Today was my 5 year old niece’s first day to school. She has been talking about going to Kindergarten since Christmas. We were sitting and reading a book when I asked if she was excited about turning 5 in March. She told me that she was because after she turned five then she could go to kindergarten. So this morning she got up and put on her new school uniform and grabbed a new pink backpack that is almost as big as she is and headed out the door. I didn’t need to see the photos to imagine what her new adventure expression looked like because I’ve seen it before. It’s a combination of pride, anticipation, wonder. As she walked into school, I am pretty sure she felt completely prepared if not totally fearless to begin the long journey that is ahead of her.
I am also starting yet another new chapter, a new adventure . I’ve lost track with how many chapter’s I’m on but I can tell you it’s been more than a few! I share Abbye’s enthusiasm and anticipation of a new adventure and a new opportunity to learn and grow. But even having the benefit of years of experience, lessons already learned; I still don’t feel completely prepared moving forward and even less fearless. Even though I’ve seen chapters like this end having learned more, experienced more, challenged myself more; I’ve also learned that there are a lot of things you can’t anticipate. There are a lot of missteps that you eventually wish you hadn’t made. Some roads don’t take you where you thought they would. Some people you thought were friends really weren’t. There’s a lot to be unsure of.
But I’ve always thought ultimately, it’s about moving forward even if it’s crawling. It’s not just about making the choice of which adventure to take, it’s walking ahead even if you feel as battle weary as you do prepared. This Sunday in the new Bible Study class I’m excited to be joining (another new adventure), the Robert Frost poem about the two roads came up. Here’s an exerpt:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Robert Frost
I never took American Lit so I never heard the official interpretation of this poem. I always thought it was about making the better choice. The one other people didn’t have the guts to take. The one that leads to a singularly unique life. But after reading it again as someone who has been faced with a similar choice a time or two, I realize they were both probably good choices. The choice that made all the difference was that he made a choice and walked down the path to see what it held. How does he know the other path didn’t have great things to offer if he never took it? Isn’t that life?
Sometimes the things we look forward to aren’t the things we are most thrilled to discover along the way. This morning when my niece was dropped off by her parents she expressed her fervent desire that she would come home with real big girl homework. When I called her this afternoon to ask her what she did at school the list went something like this: ate breakfast, then played outside, ate lunch, took a nap and then ate a snack. She sounded pretty thrilled about all of those new exciting experiences so I didn’t have the heart to point out that she ate breakfast, played outside, ate lunch, took a nap and got a snack most days at home, too! She didn’t have homework from her first day at kindergarten but she didn’t mention that to me. I had to ask my Mom for the important info like did she get a nice teacher, did she know any kids in her class, etc. Abbye doesn’t have to worry about that stuff because she knows her Mom and Dad will take care of the details.
All of this has lead me to realize that it’s all simply about making the best choice you can and then moving ahead. It’s about putting away things that would hold us back, picking up the things that will help us and then keep focusing on the things that encourage us to keep on moving ahead even if it’s just something little like a snack or a nap. I think it’s also about trusting that we are not outside the reach of a loving father who will direct our paths and pick us up when we stumble.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)