The path of life

There will be rocks on the road. Don’t trip on them.

The author, a seminary graduate with a brief stint as a pastor, is a retired housing contractor. He lives in Chico.

Long or short, life is a journey. As with any journey, the path on which one travels can be rocky and steep or level and easy. Though we seek the easy path where struggles are few, it is the times when the path is difficult that build the strongest character.

When we are young and early in life’s journey, our path seems full of hope. Strength, athletic ability, thoughts of a good-paying job and love are all laid out before us. We think the path will be easy all through life. That is the beauty of youth. The thought of building character does not come to mind, nor does it need to.

Even as we grow older, it is not our intent to build character. That happens in spite of ourselves as we encounter the inevitable difficulties and disappointments that come as the journey continues.

That is not to say that youth is good and age is bad. With age comes a life rich in experiences with friends and family. It is the joy of hearing beautiful children call you Grandpa or Grandma, of establishing closer bonds with sisters or brothers, or of just being more comfortable with who you are.

We have a choice when encountering rocks on our journey. We can let them trip us up so we complain and become unhappy. Or we can negotiate them patiently, recognizing their value to our development. The former leads to weakness, the latter leads to strength.

Being strong in character does not necessarily mean that all people will be your friend. As difficult as that may be to accept, we should all be reminded of what the gospel writer Luke said, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you!” This is seldom a problem. Those who speak ill of you seldom if ever do it to your face. Even your good friends will not always speak well of you, but they do it to your face in fun with good-natured ribbing.

What matters is not the path we travel on in this journey, be it steep or level, rocky or smooth. Even the physical changes that come with age do not matter. Only one thing on this journey matters, and it is the only thing over which we have control. It is our state of mind.