The Road Not Taken


Last updated 4/8/2020 at 2:57pm


One of my favorite poems was written in 1916 by Robert Frost. Most people are familiar with a couple of lines from the poem: "Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

We all look back over our lives at the choices we made and see how we ended up where we are now. We've all made good and bad choices that caused things to happen or not happen: Why did we take that job? Why did we move to that place? Why did we marry that person?

As we get older we often have regrets. A woman recently told me she'd had a spoonful of happiness in her life but a mountain of regrets. That's sad.

Some people make decisions by praying about them, some people flip a coin. Often we ask advice from people who aren't qualified to give advice or who don't have our best interests at heart, and they send us down the wrong road.

When I was young I spent three years working in Navajo Indian Mission in New Mexico. It was an old adobe mission in the middle of nowhere. We didn't have a phone, we could get one television channel, and we went to town once a month for groceries. I didn't get a salary; I received room and board, and I was content with that.

Some days there was a lot to do and I worked hard, other days there was little to do, and I'd spend the day walking in the desert. I loved the desert, loved the Navajo people, and loved the work I did. The missionary couple in charge of the mission were like the mother and father I never had. I was at peace, I was happy, I felt what I was doing made a difference.

I knew other missionaries in the area-they were mostly older, married couples, and there were a large number of single women in their fifties and sixties. They'd never married, never had children and had devoted their lives to serving God. I wondered if they were happy and satisfied with their lives. I wondered if they regretted not having a husband and not having children, but I never asked them.

I began to believe that if I stayed at the mission, I would be a spinster like those women, and I would never be married and never have children. I was young and had just spent three years without a date.

I had a choice to make. I chose to leave the mission, and within months I'd met someone and gotten married. Eventually, we had four children who grew up to be very fine people. My husband died, and now I didn't have a husband and the children had grown and left home. I was single again. Back to square one, except I was older.

I wondered if I could go back and work at some mission again, volunteering my time, working for only room and board-but the door had closed. The people I'd known years ago had retired or died.

I wasn't wanted or needed. I was too old. I couldn't go back.

Life at the mission had been easy and simple and peaceful. It was about prayer and Bible study and work and service.

Taking care of a husband and four children was not easy or simple or peaceful. There were times of great joy, fun, love, and happiness, and then it ended. I no longer had a husband or children. The life at the mission I think would have gone on just the same, changing very little over the years.

I wish, when I was young, that I would have asked those women missionaries if they were happy, content, if they felt like they'd missed out on anything by not getting married and not having children. But it was none of my business; I couldn't ask such personal questions.

I've made mistakes, too many. I have regrets, too many. I've had great victories, amazing adventures, I've had moments of absolute, complete, happiness. I've had moments of deep, dark despair. I've had my heart broken more than once. I guess that is life.

When we throw a pebble into the water, we don't know how far the ripples will go. I may have been the pebble and my children are the ripples, they will go out and touch lives, change lives and save lives. They will make a difference. Maybe my purpose in life was to bring my children into the world so they could do great things, their children will carry on-and who knows what wonderful lives they will live?

I chose a road . . . I'll never know if it was the best road.

"Show me the right path, oh Lord, point out the road for me to follow." (Psalm 25:4 NLT)

Crying Wind is the

author of Crying Wind,

My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins and Stars in the Desert.


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