Two Roads

Marshall has been studying poetry in his English grammar class the past couple weeks and this week had to analyze a poem. He chose Robert Frost,The Road Not Taken.I think Robert Frost is my favorite American poet, so I was delighted with this choice and have really enjoyed discussing the layers of meaning embedded in this poem with Marshall.  As we contemplated the imagery and message of the poem, we both felt a certain connection with the “traveler” who is presented with two roads “in a yellow wood” and has to choose which one to take. In the end he realizes that years from that point he would look back on his choice and say, “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”  It’s nostalgic and even a little bit sad, while at the same time, packed with wisdom. The traveler comes to realize that life is full of choices and one choice inevitably leads to another. We do not know what might have come from another path and sometimes the choices we make send us off in directions that we have very few tributary choices on which to divert.

When I think of our life and the major decisions and changes that have been “roads diverged” for us, the first one that comes to mind is the horrible decisions Joel made that has sent us on a trajectory which has included prison time for him, single parenting for me, treatment programs, restrictions, moves, and other painful processes. At first glance it seems like one bad choice has tainted every possible course from that point forward. And indeed the implication of Frost’s poem is in line with that assessment.

But I am inclined to question that conclusion. Not because of my own experiences, although they would suggest an alternate truth, but mostly because I am convinced that our God makes us more than conquerors. His whole pursuit of mankind is based on redemption. And that means that even the awful choices Joel made, while obviously having devastating consequences, can also be used by God to create beauty. I don’t understand it. But I know it’s true.

The other day Marshall was sharing with me a crazy dream he had in which he woke up to find himself living back in Florida in the fourth grade and everything that has happened to our family in the past five years had been a dream. He shared with me how in his dream he kept trying to tell me what had happened in our lives during those five years. As he finished recounting the  dream, I asked him this weighty question, “Marshall when you woke up for real, were you disappointed or relieved?” Without hesitating he said, “I was relieved. We’ve come too far and had too many good things in those years to give it all up.”

That is the picture of redemption! That is the truth I cling too, especially when I’m worn out and frustrated by the difficult path we trod. God’s beautiful design even in the injustice of what we face, gives me hope. And as I look back over our path I am overwhelmed with gratefulness at His redemptive process.

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