Perhaps you read the above title and thought this was going to be about food. I could SO easily go in that direction right now! I will not, though, and instead, I will save that topic and revisit it soon.
The fork I am referring to in the title is not the eating utensil, but rather the places that most everyone comes to at different points of life where a decision has to be made. Cartoon depictions of forks in the road usually show two paths going opposite directions. The reality, though, is often there are more than two paths. This of course can add to the confusion of knowing which direction is the correct one in which to head.
In looking back at my own path, I can’t count how many times I came to a place on my journey where a decision needed to be made. These weren’t lightweight issues. Every day we all face many decisions. Should I wear the blue shirt or the white shirt today? Which shoes go best with this outfit? Should I have oatmeal or eggs for breakfast? What the heck am I going to cook these kids for dinner tonight? What kind of cookies should I bake for the weekday lunches? The list could go on and on. Sometimes, though, the forks in the road and the aftermath of a decision made hold much more weight than what I plan to eat for breakfast. I think back to big decisions like: Where should I attend college? What should I study while there? Should I marry this guy who I met when I was sixteen and have been dating for two years? Do we have kids? How many? Do I pick myself back up after losing our daughter? How? Should I homeschool? Should I divorce this man who I married twenty-four years ago? What do I do now that my nest is empty? How do I handle this medical diagnosis that threatens my life? These are a few of the major forks in the road I have encountered.
Of all the decisions that have accompanied those forks, the biggest one, and one that is constantly presented to me, is of a spiritual nature. I knew of God for a very long time. He pursued me for many years. I would give in with my head only to walk away again when presented with a challenge that I perceived could not be compatible with a God who was supposed to love me. A little over three years ago, I grew tired of this game. A major decision had to be made. I needed to either go all in for God or walk away forever. I chose the former and gave my life to Jesus. I knew that decision would give me life eternally; I also knew that decision would not mean the end of trouble. What I didn’t expect, though, was to come once again to a spiritual fork that had me doubting the goodness of God. It is at that fork in the road that I have found myself for the last month or so.
Chronic illness coupled with depression can really mess with a person’s head. Illness tells me that I am a bother to those around me. Depression takes that a step farther and tells me that those around me would be better off if I weren’t around at all. God’s voice gets lost in the noise of the other two voices sometimes. Thankfully, I know in my heart this time that I am a child of God. I know He is in control. Those two things keep me from completely giving up. Still, when human voices/actions (or the lack thereof) agree with and reinforce the voices of illness and depression, it is difficult to stand up under that taunting. My instinct is self preservation. It is one of the basic human instincts–protect oneself from harm or perceived harm–whether that be physical or emotional. I have, for the last few months, been building walls around my heart to protect it from hurt. There are obvious gaps in these walls, though, for very recently I was hurt by someone. The wound stings as I’m sure you can imagine. We have all been hurt at one point by someone close to us. That hurt presents yet another fork in the road. I can take the path of moving on or I can wallow in the hurt, replaying the cutting words over and over again until a callous forms on my heart.
Recently, one of my kids faced somewhat of a crisis. While I love all my kids dearly and would give my very life for any of them, they are now all adults. I can’t fix their problems (most of the time) anymore. In talking with this adult child of mine, my advice was to do the next thing that needed to be done. Maybe that was get to work and do your job well. Maybe that was go to the store and buy groceries. Whatever the next task was that needed to be completed, keep moving forward and get it done. It may be that a direction needed to be tweaked…instead of heading west, northwest would be the better choice. Whatever it took, though, make the choice on which way to go and go.
As I stand at a fork in my road today, feeling lonely, lost, and not hearing God’s voice at all, I know I must take my own advice. Do the next thing. Bake the banana bread even though pain levels are very high. Get the laundry done. Scoop the cat box. Talk to God even though it seems He is nowhere near me right now. Assume He hears even though my heart wonders if that is true. Worship, even if that worship is filled with tears and offered through the lens of a dark depression. Do it anyway. Keep moving forward, even if for every step forward there is one step back. Step anyway, even though stepping in the dark can be scary. Maybe, soon, if I keep going, I will find light instead of darkness. Maybe I will find joy instead of sorrow. Maybe I will find that God really has been here the whole time. Maybe I will find purpose.
And just maybe, I will find someone who understands.