The curves ahead warning sign is a common sight when you live in the mountains. A suggested lowered speed limit is posted. If we heed the warning and go through the curves at a slower pace, we may get shifted around slightly. We get through it. However, God help the driver who does not heed the warning, for that person could be speeding into a world of hurt.
Life can send us into some sharp curves, whether it's an unexpected change in circumstances, or perhaps a learning curve as we continue to grow. We have a choice:
Do I respond to the warning signs by slowing my pace and focusing my attention; or,
Do I react with a last minute veering, hoping I won't careen off the road?
My hope is we would slow down and respond. However, to even see the warning signs, we must be intentionally present in this journey of life and not be distracted by all the noise.
Life has certainly thrown us all some serious curves in the past few years. Rather than dwell on that though, let's focus on the positive. Even positive change has its (learning) curves.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm probably one of the most tech-challenged people to exist. There was a time when I worked in an office that booted up its computers with two floppy disks. I kid you not, there was no hard drive and dial-up modems taught us patience. No, I'm not dating myself to be that old, they were just that far behind.
At least that's what I'm telling myself.
The office hired a professional and paid a lot for that expertise. Fast forward 20ish years and there are free tutorials we can access at our fingertips in a few seconds to walk us through just about anything. Having been back in the workplace for the past few years, I was recently asked to join our communications team. It's kinda funny, they had to hire two of us, one for the tech, one for the story crafting.
I'll let you figure out which one I was asked to do...
My patience level is low when it comes to technology. Maybe dial-up wasn't such a good teacher after all. There are apps for everything and it seems it's next to impossible to do everything in one app or program. You have to have multiple apps, programs, plugins, codes and html to embed, and then special apps that tell the other apps how to talk to each other and get along.
That last part kinda sounds like parenting, doesn't it?
My point is, even though I'm getting older, I can learn new things. I can find new purpose. Had you asked me just 10 years ago if I thought I'd be attempting this kind of growth, I would've laughed. But now, I'm learning to grow. That's the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. It's not easy, but I'm responding to the challenges and giving myself much grace.
After losing my mom to dementia in her early 60's, I want to challenge my brain to be physically healthy, in addition to fostering my mental health. So, I began a program several weeks ago to hopefully expand my brain and learn more beyond the basics of the digital world, because I hope and feel called to reach beyond my immediate circle of influence with the message of hope and purpose. In this program, we're told that we're never behind. I am so grateful for that message, and I'm not the only one who's still learning the basics while others are flying through the program. That's okay. Not only is it okay, but it's encouraging to see other people step out of their comfort zone and admit they have to take time to travel through their learning curves.
Sometimes sharp curves can be the challenges we face when we are walking the journey we know in our hearts we're meant to walk. Sometimes the sharp curves can be on a back-road in the country, where we've gotten off course. But aren't country back-roads a place to see some of the most beautiful scenery in creation as we're being gently nudged back to where we need to be?
Maybe we need to slow down a bit more to enjoy that scenery as we navigate the road of challenges.
By responding, through slowing down, getting back to basics, and giving ourselves grace, we can make the journey a lot less tumultuous. If we look at Paul's life, we see all sorts of trials he faced. In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Paul itemizes, even boasts, of flogging, imprisonment, being shipwrecked, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, and being exposed in the cold.
Why would he boast of the things he considered weaknesses?
A little further, in 2 Corinthians 12, we learn that Paul was given a "thorn in his flesh" (v. 7), to keep him humble. Paul begged three times for the Lord to take it away (v.8), but thankfully the story doesn't end there with an unanswered prayer. Paul is answered in an unexpectedly beautiful way:
"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. Form when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
We have hope in the knowledge that God will strengthen us through and in spite of, or perhaps because of, our weaknesses and trials. Not only that, but God forges our character, determination, and even our purpose out of the fires of our experience.
What are your sharp curves today? Where do you need to give yourself some grace as you learn new things or work through difficult circumstances?
Consider journaling in response to the following five questions when you see the warning signs that there may be sharp curves ahead:
Am I exercising faith over fear?
What can I learn about my relationships with God, myself, and others, from this experience?
How can this experience help me grow in my faith and relationship with God?
How can I use this experience and what I've learned to help others?
How do I let go and let God?
Let's slow down and look for the beauty in the midst of the journey. Then, we can look back with gratitude for having slowed down and traveled well through the curves.
Give yourself grace and allow healing to begin.
How can you be more intentional today in looking for the beauty of the journey while traveling through the curves?
Please share your response below to inspire and encourage others.