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Which Way to Walk
Saturday morning, as I was walking around the Baring lake, I met a young lady walking the opposite direction. I jokingly said to her, “I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way!” We laughed, then, we each walked our differing ways. I had made the comment as a way to let the woman know that I saw and accepted her, but that I expected no invitation into her private pilgrimage. As I continued my walk, that simple phrase played over in my head. “I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way.” I realized that the phrase held some useful truth.
Of course, my comment was a tease which implied that the only right way to go was in the direction that I had chosen. Unfortunately, some people believe that is true of all their own opinions. But, Mary Ann and I were both just out to get some exercise, so whether she walked north and I walked south made no difference. Each of our choices was correct for us. Many of our choices in life are like that. No right or wrong, but merely a matter of preference. Even in matters of preference, however, the phrase seemed useful. “I would walk with you” could let the other person know that you were willing to share their company. “But, you are going the wrong way” would let the person know that a difference in preferences kept you from joining them at this time.
At other times, it is not a preference but a resulting destination that differs. This might be true of financial goals, family planning goals, or career goals. Another person’s goals may be fine, but they are not your goals. Other times, our desired destination is the same, but our timing for reaching that goal differs from their timing. In each of these matters, we respect the other person’s right to go their preferred way, but we respectfully decline to join them. I believe that each of us has a God-given path that is right for us. When invited to veer from our path onto the path of another, we are wise to say, “I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way (for me).”
Then, there are times when there is a definite wrong way to travel. The way is wrong in every way and for everyone. Though that wrong path may appear inviting, and though others might choose to go there, this path always ends in destruction. Solomon’s proverb, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death” is true. Death might be death to a reputation, death to a healthy body, death to moral integrity, or death to an important relationship. When invited to join this path, a person would be wise to say, “I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way.” You might even be kind enough to invite the person to join you on a healthier path.
“I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way” seems a useful message. When our desired destination is similar to others, we can walk together. The phrase, however, enables us to say no to paths that lead to places we do not desire to go. The statement allows a person to focus on the road that leads to their own personal God-given destination, the road that follows their unique personality, and abilities. Without judgment, the statement encourages others to pursue their own God-given destination. Likewise, we can avoid dangerous paths that lead to destruction with that simple statement. Simple as it sounds, the phrase, “I would walk with you, but you are going the wrong way” might just be a phrase worth rehearsing.
Contributed by Carolyn Primm