For All Who Have Chosen Wrong Roads

Maybe it’s the bright yellow of autumn here in New England, or perhaps it’s just my affinity for Robert Frost’s view of the world, but I can’t seem to turn calendar pages past the fall equinox without mumbling phrases from “The Road Not Taken.” It’s unfortunate that a glut of 70’s-era posters and way too many graduation speeches have rendered the poem hackneyed, mooring it in its final and familiar stanza:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This simplistic portrayal of a fork in the leaf-strewn path seems to veer on past the melancholy of regret that characterizes so much of Frost’s poetry. Hear it in this earlier line from “The Road Not Taken”:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence . . .

It is both our glory and our demise that humanity has the ability to re-cycle a decision. This was nearly my undoing when I was agonizing over college choices and the selection of a major, but it has gifted both freedom and fresh air to me in my understanding of calling during these years of living past the mid-point.

Picking up C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce after a long absence, I have been surprised to find not only the expected words about the great chasm between good and evil, but also glorious truth for those who have chosen what they now see to have been a wrong road. Lewis likens the restorative process to the correction of a math problem which (after having shepherded four homeschooled sons through algebra, I can heartily attest) “can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point.”

This is good news to me, for, I can think of a number of things I’d like to “work afresh.” I invite you to join me in taking a good hard look at the elements of your own story that cause you to hang your head or avert your eyes – or go foraging in the fridge in search of something to fill you up.

Capture

And while you’re thinking about that, come on over to SheLoves Magazine and finish reading my ponderings on wrong roads and the truth that they are not dead ends after all, so long as we don’t insist on “simply going on.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

38 thoughts on “For All Who Have Chosen Wrong Roads”

  1. The Road Not Taken was one of my favorite poetry memorizations in middle school-
    Though perhaps I never thought deeply about it. So true that with Christ we do have an opportunity to revisit and redeem poor choices. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I’m glad you had to learn it in school. My school years were during the pendulum swing away from memorization for its own lovely sake, so I learned it along with my kids when they memorized it. There’s nothing like the work of memorizing to make me ponder the meaning of something. Thank you for reading!

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  2. I do love much of Frost’s poetry…’nothing gold can stay’ is the piece I return to in the fall… but mostly I wanted to say how beautiful and hopeful your words were over at She Loves. They voice a message I long to be heard by some that I love. I think as a mom I so stressed ‘getting it right the first time’ that I didn’t teach my kids well about the glory of repentance and forgiveness and the God who ‘waits to be gracious’… Thank you for always sharing such faith-filled truth and letting your voice be heard!

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    1. Thanks for sharing another of Frost’s lovely things. I just finished reading a whole series of his “fall” poems out loud with my 15 year old (and he survived, but barely), and for some reason this beauty was not among them.
      Shepherding our children’s hearts is such a hard thing because we long for orthodoxy in their bones, and it’s hard for us to brook any signs of waffling so why would we ever PLAN for it, right? I do wonder if some of the reason my adult kids have (so far . . .) stayed on course is that they saw me fail and apologize so many times. Sigh.
      I do appreciate your encouragement in this blogging life, Linda. It’s wonderful that we are persevering together in offering up the things we’re learning and our gratitude for that waiting God continually does for us.

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      1. Failing and apologizing… good stuff. This is humility and as my husband has long said, ‘Humility always works’. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. I carry some of those consequences I think, but He is in the process of redeeming those things too… Who would have thought all the good that could be mined from a book about an old bachelor ( :

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  3. Dear Michele,
    Frost’s words that always roll around in my head is “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. . .” especially since I find myself having a mini-woods in our front yard now! I loved your words here–what a blessing that our Lord’s Grace is fitted for all of our regrets and second chances! It’s been a long time since I read Lewis’ “Great Divorce” also, but maybe this winter is a good time for that! Blessings to you!

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    1. Your Frost favorite is also a good one — “miles to go before I sleep.”
      I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Great Divorce on this read through. (Just finished it last night.)
      Thanks, Bettie, for your company on this journey!

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  4. Making the wrong choice and going down a path that wasn’t God’s intention used to cause me anxiety and fear. Sometimes to the point of stagnation because I didn’t want to do something wrong. I have not come to realize God is bigger! He’s bigger than my mistakes and missteps. While I should certainly try to do the right thing and follow His path, if I can’t find it or hear Him – He will present another way! That has helped soothe anxiety and actually allow me to hear God better! Thank you for the post!

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    1. That’s so true – fear of making a “wrong” decision can be paralyzing. And I love that you find yourself hearing God better now. What a great outcome from speaking truth to your own heart.

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  5. Hi Michele, I followed you over to sheloves magazine. Your words, “In this returning, there is no shame or threat of reproach. Instead, I find a promise of mercy and grace, a blessed assurance that however slight or cataclysmic my misstep, there will always be a way back,”
    I’m reminded of Naomi and her return home, and our great kinsman Redeemer. He not only grants us grace, He can make our mistakes into something so much better. He has redeemed me for forever, but He also redeems my every day. Blessings! Andy from #grit-up

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    1. Thank you, Andy, for this insightful and clarifying comment. And I think we do a pretty good job as a rule in communicating the gospel’s cleansing and life changing power. However, as we know, this is not a once-and-done proposition when it comes to living every day. We need our Redeemer’s grace minute by minute for walking and staying on the path. So glad you’ve added your voice to this conversation!

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  6. to ‘”work afresh” is such a blessing, I have taken some wrong paths, but luckily always found my way back to love an light. Thank you so much for sharing this with #mg linky

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  7. I am so grateful for the conviction that filters through to my heart when it takes a wrong road even if it’s only for a brief time. Watching a movie the other night by myself gave me the choice to not turn it off when it got too racey. Soon I was captivated and caught up in the love story and watched till the end. The Holy Spirit was grieved and I was sicken at how easily I went down that wrong road. Not only grateful for conviction but for that mercy road that waited for me to ask forgiveness for my wandering mind. This is a great post. Wasn’t planning on being so honest when I read this but there am I, warts and all.

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    1. Thank you for pointing out the role of the Holy Spirit in keeping us focused and obedient. And for this very honest portrayal of how He can change a defeat into a victory and a growth point for the tender heart. I’m so glad you came here with your story, Betty.

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  8. “In this returning, there is no shame or threat of reproach. Instead, I find a promise of mercy and grace, a blessed assurance that however slight or cataclysmic my misstep, there will always be a way back.”

    The enemy would love nothing more than for us to continue on a dark path for fear of shame. I’m so thankful that there is no…NO…condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Great post this week, Michele!

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  9. I think quite often we learn the best from the dodgy paths we might take, but it is always good to have that fork there to follow the right one in the end! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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