Monday I went for a well mapped out bike ride on a beautiful Fall day. Everything was going as planned. Taking the back roads I was free of traffic and made it to my lunch break destination with time to enjoy the scenery. Then, after lunch, about a mile into the rest of my route, I came across a detour. Whereas I had planned to turn right, cross a bridge and continue back road riding as I meandered home; my right turn was blocked by a “road closed – detour” sign complete with barrier across said bridge.
This really wasn’t too big of an inconvenience as I was familiar with the area and able to navigate an alternate route around the detour. But as I cycled home I just kept thinking about that “road closed – detour” sign. Isn’t that like life? We have our well planned and mapped out route in mind and go about following the map/plan and then – surprise! Detour!
As a pastor I often get a window into the detours people encounter in life. These range from those caused by an issue of health, a relationship that has gone south, an unexpected vocational change, or the disappointment caused by any number of other surprises. Detours are sometimes quite sad, such as when early onset dementia steals a spouse and the retirement map is now shelved. Detours can also turn out for the better – such as when an opportunity for professional advancement leads a family on a new adventure.
If you were to look back over your life, how many times have you encountered a detour? What did that detour look like? Was it the loss of a job? Relocation? Change in family status or situation? A crisis of health (yours or a loved ones?) A five year plan that just kept hitting road blocks?
How did you greet it? Maybe with some disappointment – you’re kidding me! Maybe with some emotion – anger? tears? Then – probably with some resolve.
As I met today’s detour I tried to keep the following things in mind: 1) Don’t panic – so the bridge is out, time to go left rather than right. 2) Be open to the new. My new and unexpected route proved to be kind of interesting. 3) Embrace the challenge. Detours often have a way of revealing what we are made of. 4) Know when to call for help. (I didn’t need to, but I did consider who I might call if necessary.) 5) Pay it forward. Help others avoid or make it through the detour by sharing your experience – warning, bridge out on county road 300 N.
Speaking of which – who do you know that’s dealing with one of life’s detours right now? How might you reach out to them? What do you have to offer them? Don’t neglect the gift of your listening presence. Remember what it was like when you faced your detour(s)? What did you find most helpful? What was least helpful? Consider this as you pay it forward.