Country music is not my chosen genre, but Rascal Flatts said it best:
“I set out on a narrow way many years ago,
hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two, wiped my brow and kept pushing through…”*
I don’t know with whom this singer is sharing his heart, but I do know how these lyrics resonate with me. During my adolescence, I was taught to steadfastly walk the narrow road ahead, because the best was yet to come. So, as a good Christian girl, I continued to walk the road less traveled one step at a time, convinced all my efforts would be rewarded with the fruit they would bear. I finished high school, went to college, got a job, became involved in church, preserved my chastity for my soon-to-be-Christian husband, and became pregnant with a beautiful baby girl. These were the golden decisions, carefully made.
Until one day, I broke.
Throughout my childhood, I watched the most toxic, unhealthy marriages robotically function around me. My grandfather was an alcoholic with a raging anger that was never addressed. My father was a fleeting image as he drifted in and out of my life, like a sudden breeze that kisses your face on a hot humid day in Virginia. Ironically, these stellar role models used the same three words. I love you. As this four-letter word was verbalized, I tied it around my neck as if it were a millstone. So often I wondered why such a wonderful word repulsed me. And what was this foreign feeling of blissfulness I could never fully grasp? This journey for real love caused a slew of confusion in my head until I found myself hungering for something other than this road less traveled, which seemed to lead nowhere.
So I did what any unhealthy Enneagram 9 would do–I dissociated from reality to avoid conflict in the “harmonious” world in which I lived. I traveled down a wider path, which seemed easier, more exhilarating, and provided immediate gratification.
I suddenly woke to my 30’s. Now left barren from an unexpected hysterectomy, clothed in rumors of partial truth, I shattered into a million pieces from a battered covenant, which led to divorce. Slowly I navigated through every day as if it were a funeral I had to attend, wearing shame as if it were a high-fashion coat. As night became day, I wallowed in the rubble that my sinful messiness of flesh had caused. Inwardly I cursed every person who caused pain to my soul, in hopes it would be freed.
Until one day, I woke.
One morning I woke to a hunger pain, similar to the one that led me astray. Yet this time my body was too tired to run–I would need to be carried. The Holy Spirit needed to be activated for this journey ahead, in which I would not walk nor run, but lie still. No movement came, no words spoken, just stillness in his presence. In that moment, my broken heart did the talking and my God did the mending. As his healing words breathed into my lungs, my blood became oxygenated. The love, which I had internally loathed, I suddenly yearned for. I woke to a Father’s love that was not merely a word, but an action. The millstone was removed. My feeble legs became strong. Like an egg cracked over my head, my shame was broken.
Until one day, God spoke.
In that moment I realized the road less traveled was not created for the promises of this world, but for a higher dwelling place, beyond this realm.
Over the years, after this groundbreaking awakening occurred, my world changed outwardly to what most Christians would label as “messy,” but I referred to as “freeing.” It was revealed to me that the secret of this road less traveled is not in its riches obtained as humans. It is the cultivation of vulnerability and humility that causes us to drop to our knees in front of the cross. Status, race, age, and gender placed aside, we can raise our hands in thankfulness that in our identified brokenness, he is made strong. Just as the song says, “wiped my brow and kept pushing through,” I too chose to push through as I got back on that less-traveled road. The only difference this time was that as my intentions changed, so did my life.
*Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flatts, 2000