There it was. Just across the street from my hotel was a beautiful and perfect trail. I couldn’t wait to unpack and get on it! I watched other carefree runners making their way down the shiny asphalt as I pulled into the parking lot. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found this gem (or gym if you like puns).
It didn’t take me long to change out of my travel clothes and lace up my tennis shoes. Then I was out the front door of the hotel lobby in a flash. However, I immediately encountered a problem. The entire area was new construction; the traffic-filled streets had no lights yet installed for cars or pedestrians. So, I stood there on the corner of the busy intersection like a kid who had just unwrapped socks on Christmas morning.
The heat of Jackson Mississippi beat down on me as my blood pressure began to rise. Two minutes. Then three. There was no break in the traffic. I couldn’t get across. I finally admitted defeat and began running circles around a shopping center for three miles.
I was getting increasingly frustrated with my alternative route when suddenly a puppy ran out of nowhere followed by another. They were bouncing more than running. I instinctively got down as they both jumped on me for some attention. It was so fun! Their owner quickly came to apologize and thanked me for being kind to his pups. In that moment, I realized I would have missed this joyful encounter had I been on that silly trail.
Sometimes we work and struggle for success in professions for which we were never called. Sometimes we become angry when we can’t get where we were never supposed to go. Sometimes we get frustrated when we force relationships that are not right for us. We look on the other side of the fence, or across the road, and think how wonderful things would be. But in truth, that’s just not the right path for us.
Had I made it to the trail, I would have missed two delightful puppies that needed and wanted me as much in that moment as I needed and wanted them. Sometimes we need to take a step back, assess where we are and determine what God’s will is for our lives. Our work should bring us value as we bring value to our teams. And our relationships should be equally balanced when it comes to respect and love.
It’s time for us to stop fighting traffic and run with joy the race set before us – even if that race entails letting go of what we thought we wanted and instead involves multiple laps around a shopping center. It really doesn’t matter how patient you have been or how hard you have worked to get across the street. If it isn’t right, you will never achieve peace. However, when you are on the right path – where you are supposed to be – even parking lots can be full of pleasant surprises.