Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sanity - Or The Alternative

" If you don’t change the direction you are going,

then you are likely to end up where you are headed.”
                             .....  John Maxwell

I have recently spent a great deal of time with someone who "ended up where she was headed."

She was a beautiful child when I first knew her.  Flaxen blond hair, sky-blue eyes, Dresden china skin, and a smile that could steal your heart in a glance.

She was the youngest, the family clown, a little doll.

The serious drinking began at fourteen. When I stood by her hospital bedside after a suicide attempt, watching her breathe in a coma that the doctors said she might not emerge from, she was 21.  The first rehab came at 22 - the most recent one at 55.  I lost count of all those in between.  There were interminable Sunday afternoons, when visitors were allowed, that I spent sitting in shabby rooms surrounded by the detritus of lives gone wrong, futures forfeited, and families forever broken - while we talked about whether "this time" would be the time she would change direction.

But, as a doctor I once worked with used to say, "Everywhere you go, there you are."  You hear that a lot now days, but back then it was a newly coined phrase, and struck me as almost ... well, profound in a simple way.

Everywhere you go, you take your hopes and fears, your disappointments and resentments, your loves and hates with you.  If the only thing that changes is location, then the only thing that will change is your address.

Those familiar with "The Big Book" (no, not the one with 66 books and venerated by fellow believers, but rather those who know and live the Twelve Step Programs) often say,

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." 

I think perhaps that Maxwell is saying the same thing in slightly different words. 

Thus, if we like the direction we are headed, let us adhere to the path with all the fidelity and forbearance we can muster.

But if we are looking down life's road and see a sad destination coming 'round the bend toward us, let us determine to change direction.                    * * *

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..."        II Corinthians 5:17-18


  1. A very apt illustration for this week's quote. And sad too.

  2. I have played that game of changing my address and not understanding why the outcomes were the same as at the old place. Frustrating at best when it is minor things in our life, but how devastating it can be as in your illustration when it is the major things. Thankful for the reminder to change direction not address.

    (and welcome home, praying your life finds some sense of settlement for a while)