I chew the end of my pen as I stare at the calendar. It stares back at me, taunts me with the final word. It has the upper hand. It controls time; I do not.
The year begins to draw to a close, and I want to make it stop. This currency of time, I want some of it back. I want to slow it down; I want to be the one who dictates how many hours are in each day based on how much I have yet to accomplish.
I want to feel like I haven’t failed.
My lack of achievement this year frustrates me—my lack of being where I thought I would be at this point. Heaviness lands on me as I realize I didn’t accomplish the goals I set out to kick this year. In fact, I’m not sure I managed to even pick up the ball. I stand here and measure my worth on my lack of success, and I am plagued by defeat.
I want to give up.
I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to kick these goals when I am consumed with holding so many other balls in the air.
Failure rises within me. It’s familiar, and I want to huddle down into its bleak comfort. But just as I begin to sink, a truth reaches into my heart. It’s a truth that crossed my mind recently—a truth the universe has sought to bring to my attention, but one I have been too distracted to take hold of.
I hear it now. Allow it to rest upon me. Take a moment to grasp it.
Our lives are not a linear journey.
I think this is where we go wrong. We believe our lives should be a straight line that moves from point A to point B. This is the way we have come to measure our success. The finish line we cross first. The rungs we climb up in the corporate ladder. The dollars we accumulate in our bank account. The investments we grow and multiply. The marriage, the house, the children—all in a straight line.
We measure our success in linear progression. And then believe any detour from this straight line is failure. If we aren’t progressing forward, then we must be going backward. We must be failing.
But what if life isn’t a linear journey, but a spiritual journey?
What if we could believe the most profound and important moments of our lives are the detours we take from that straight and narrow road?
What if we could believe life doesn’t take us forward; that instead, it takes us where we need to go?
Because here, in the side streets, the alleyways, the blind corners, the wrong turns—here is where we experience life. Here, where we are shaken and challenged and cracked wide open, in these places we least expected to go. Here is where our character is grown and shaped, where we learn life lessons we could never have learned if we had stayed only on the linear journey.
The spiritual journey isn’t straight. It’s a glorious mishmash of scrawls and scribbles, of chaos and mess. Unlike our linear journey, we cannot control our spiritual journey. We can only surrender to it.
We must shift our modern thinking that tells us we are only successful if we measure our progress on linear terms. If we make it from point A to point B; if we reach the finish line in an orderly, progressive manner, never having strayed from the lanes we are taught to stay in.
Instead, we must embrace the spiritual journey—the one that says there are no lanes, no straight roads, no finish lines, no perimeters of progression to determine our success.
The one that reminds us success is not based on what we achieve, but on who we become.
If we remember our lives are not a linear journey, we are free to create, free to live, free to embrace opportunities and take paths we may have otherwise avoided. We are free to make mistakes, fail, go backwards, find our way forward, free to do it all again.
This year, I may not have succeeded on my linear journey. I may not have kicked the goals I’d hoped. Instead, I took detours. I went down paths not trodden, I took some steps backward, I made some wrong turns, got lost, experienced some things in life I hadn’t expected that led me away from my list of accomplishments.
But I understand now.
That isn’t failure. It’s just human.
It’s the spiritual journey to which I choose to surrender. The one that will bring me success.
Maybe not success that the world will understand.
But success that will lead me to be the best person I can be.
Whether I kick another damn goal or not.
Author: Kathy Parker
Editor: Toby Israel