When Life takes Detours
Travelling through Montagu in the Western Cape on Route 62 recently, I had to take a detour because of road works and mountain blasting between Montagu and Ashton. I have travelled this road at least 30 times in my lifetime. It was only now, when I was forced to take a detour, that I discovered the most beautiful scenery, as well as a peaceful neighbourhood which one cannot easily notice by driving down the main road.
In her 2014 book Once Upon An Ever After, Angela N Blount writes: “Odd, how life makes twists and turns. I never would have guessed that I’d end up where I am now, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t trade this path I’m on for the whole solar system, for that matter. If I’ve learned anything these last several months, it’s that sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.”
I do not like detours because they are unpredictable. You do not know what to expect, how long the detour will take, what the condition of the detour road will be, and so on.
On a detour you experience a bit of the unknown. Although the area in general is known to you, that particular detour road is not. This does makes you feel a bit unprepared. And generally detours delay the journey and make it longer. You feel like you are wasting time by taking the detour.
And that is how life is. Life has detours. Life has twists and turns, as Blount writes.
Sometimes these detours are short and take us through beautiful and exciting experiences, and at other times these detours are many years long and take us through hurtful and painful experiences.
For example, your flight might be delayed and you and your friends then have to spend another night in an exciting place at the airline’s expense. That is a short and exciting detour in life.
Another example: you are in a relationship for many years which ends up in a hurting and painful experience. This is a long and agonising detour in life.
Whether short or long, detours are not really time-wasters. Detours in our life give us the opportunity to expand our knowledge and experience. Each detour is a deposit into our bank of wisdom.
After spending an extra night in a place with your friends, you might make another friend, or see another interesting show, or even find a partner. This short detour has grown you in some way.
Coming out of a long and hurting relationship brings its own lessons and wisdom. You might learn how to appreciate others more. You might learn how to appreciate yourself more. You might learn how to love others and yourself for the right reasons. This long detour in life has grown you emotionally and spiritually.
During our long and painful detours in life we must trust that God is with us, that he is leading us through the journey as he led the Israelites out of slavery.
The Israelites also did not know the way they were going, they also complained, and their road was long. They wanted to know why they had to make that journey and if it would not be better to go back to Egypt.
The way God leads us may not make sense to us, but he has reasons for each and every detour of our life.
And once we reach the new life that he has designed for us, we can agree with Angela Blount, saying: “I don’t know how I ended up here, but I would not trade it for the world.”
When life takes you on a detour, enjoy the ride and learn from the experience.