Wandering into Traffic: A Parable

I love metaphors.

That’s a strange thing to say, I know, but it’s true. I love to explain things to others (and myself) in terms that make more physical sense- taking the abstract and putting it in concrete.

This past week, after talking with a friend about how to help others see that the road they were taking was killing them, I started to think about my own weightloss journey and how I would describe it to other people. It’s been a long journey- sometimes pretty easy, other times it was a downright battle with one step forward and two steps back.

The thing that kept coming to my mind was traffic. There is a distinct possibility that this thought process was spawned by sitting on I-25 for way longer than I should’ve with a million other people…

I digress.

Like I said, my journey to health and happiness has been a long road, and one that I’m still on. I started to gain weight when I was a junior in high school. Up to that point I had been active in sports and ate all of my meals at home with my family. Then something happened. Boys.

Getting Directions

I suddenly found myself staying out all hours, eating at Denny’s or Baker’s Square every night, and driving everywhere instead of walking. I soon quit the softball team and got a part time job to pay for all of the delicious things I wanted to stick in my face.

No one around me was telling me that the path I was on wasn’t a good one. I was getting directions from people who were as lost as I was. At some point on my path I wandered around aimlessly, asking anyone who could help where I should go from here, all the while getting more and more lost.

After wandering around alleys (figuratively) day and night, I finally got some good instruction about which way to turn. The kind of directions that I got made me realize just how far off a path of health I had wandered. I was now a freshman in college and had gone from my spunky size 8/10 self (I’ve always had large “child bearing hips”) to a size 18 undergrad who was miserable. A friend’s mom introduced me to Atkins. For me this was fantastic (I wouldn’t find out until 12 years later that I have a major intolerance to gluten when I stumbled upon Paleo).

Maps

Finally! A map that made sense! I walked down this road for quite some time (about a year or so) and started seeing street signs that proved to me I was heading in the right direction. I had a plan that worked! A map I could read! Huzzah!

Sadly, if you don’t regularly ask for updates, your map can become outdated. Before I knew it the cost of eating the way I was with only meats and cheeses etc (tolls) became too high and I fell back off the grid and again got lost.

Traffic Signals

It was around the age of 23 that I was starting to realize that I really had a problem. Something was going way off course and that something was ME. By this time I had swelled to a size 22/24. I didn’t recognize myself and my internal signals were all messed up. For a couple years I hung out here- my walk/don’t walk light was busted.

It wasn’t until I was 26 that things got really bad. My dad passed away. He was walking through his own journey, and to this day I won’t know if he was lost or searching, just that he was walking the wrong way, and I was following him.

Losing dad was like having a traffic marshall walk in front of me, look me in the eye, and TELL ME to walk. My traffic signal was broken on the inside, but external forces told me it was time to go.

I think sometimes we are waiting for a sign- something that says we need to make a change, we need to move. But I think it’s like that crosswalk sign- it will just keep cycling and at some point you need to move, or get run over.

I don’t know about you but I was exhausted and dead tired of being the speed bump on my own journey.

Hold Hands and Look Both Ways

Now that I was a thing in motion, I was finally walking the right way down the street. Things often go great. I stick to the sidewalk, read my maps, bring along friends for company- life is good.

But, (you knew there was a “but”, right?) sometimes on my journey I reach a point where I have to do something hard or make a choice I don’t want to make. I have to cross the street.

I know I need to go, and as far as I can tell I have 3 choices. I can dig in my heels and not walk- remain stuck where I am, and probably get hit by a car. I could hold the hand of someone I trust, and believe they want good for me (God) and just walk upright. Or I could hold His hand and let Him drag me across the asphalt all the way across. I know you’ve seen those kids in the store. They are the ones that the parents have the iron grip on and they face plant and let themselves be dragged…

I’ve done the hand-hold-still-don’t-wanna-go route before. It’s painful. The hardest times in my life came when I had to cross the street, there was no other choice, and I got dragged. It hurt way more than it had to.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we joined hands with friends that we trust, and walked confidently across the street? If we willingly chose the things in life that bring us health and longevity? If we obeyed the signals and stayed safe?

It’s a long journey that many of us are on.

I’m walking the way towards a happy life. I have friends to hold my hands. I have maps that will get me where I need to go.

What’s your journey like? Are you wandering in the alleys, trying to figure out how you got so far off course?

Wouldn’t you like to walk with some friends instead of wandering aimlessly into traffic?

Let’s go šŸ™‚

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