Archive | October 2016

Wrong way: When it’s time to turn around

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A couple of weeks ago, I was driving to work and noticed big, dark clouds hovering in the distance.

I checked my rear view mirror—clear and sunny. Up ahead—not so nice. I half expected alien machines to burst out of the charcoal clouds, brandishing metallic octopus arms like in those Armageddon movies.

I wanted to turn around, but I doubt my bosses would have been happy if I’d cited “foreboding weather” as a reason for being late.

It made me think of all the times we’re headed for something bad and have a chance to “turn around,” in a sense, but don’t. In this case, I stayed on course because I had to get to work, but other times a detour may serve me better.

Here’s an example: At least once a week, I get words caught in my throat. It may be a pending criticism, a bad joke, a bit of gossip, a petty complaint … whatever it is, I know I shouldn’t share it, but sometimes I do anyway. And immediately regret it.

I may have the chance to stop myself and say something else—something constructive or uplifting—but sometimes I just don’t.

Here’s another example we can probably all relate to: Overeating.

Say it’s Thanksgiving and you’ve already had a plateful, plus a bite here and there when no one was looking. You know you should stop stuffing your face, but (again) it’s Thanksgiving, so you spoon out more mashed potatoes or try the other kind of pie, knowing you’ll regret it.

An hour later, you’re mad at yourself for ruining a diet, giving yourself a stomach ache or at least a food coma.

Why do we do stuff like that?

Maybe it’s not an untamed tongue or an undisciplined appetite you’re dealing with, but an addiction, abusive relationship, toxic job or road rage—something you know needs to change.

Think for a second about the last time you had someplace to be.

When you’re trying to get somewhere and miss your turn, you don’t keep going, knowing it’s the wrong way. You turn around and get back on track.

So why is it so difficult to do that in other areas of our lives? Why do we keep doing the same things, knowing they’re not good for us, or heading the same direction, knowing it’s the wrong way, when we could do the right thing or go the right way instead?

Maybe because it’s harder? Inconvenient? Unknown?

One Proverb says this:

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
—Proverbs 14:12

Yikes, sounds pretty serious.

Maybe you’ve watched a friend head down a destructive road, bracing yourself for a result you know can’t be good. Or maybe you’ve traveled that road yourself.

One thing I’ve learned over and over is to not underestimate my conscience, not ignore that gut feeling. When that feeling or that little voice takes over—when those dark clouds are looming ahead—it’s time to refocus, reevaluate, make changes, get help or whatever it is, while you still have time.

Are you going the wrong way today? Maybe it’s time to make a U-turn.