The trip home is longer and shorter

If the purpose of leaving is adventure, what is the purpose of coming back? Perspective.

Driving home from an adventure never seems to take the same amount of time as getting to the destination. The curves in the road either speed by, sliding you along to your destination, or your car wheels get stuck in asphalt molasses.

It is the same with activities. The first time you complete something it is over in a blur. The second time, everything is a comparison. Beginners’ luck runs out, muscles fumble over the now commonplace.

I learned this when I began commuting. My first real job was two exits down after you got on the freeway. I wore a hairnet and gave people samples of different food products. My second day I served sliced cheese, the yellow washed out in the blue lights of a horror film. At least, everything went wrong and I forgot to do my team task of the day. A few weeks later, my supervisor had a talk with me about sales. The road to and from work was the same every day. Pass cars, stay behind the truck, exit to the right, stop, turn, and park. Walk, look, walk, faster…stand, smile, invite, sell. I gradually got better. And as I got better, the road to work became a short reprieve, and the road home a breeze as I flew back to my life.

The first time you do something it is exciting. Many times later, it can become enjoyable again through habit. It becomes longer because every movement is predicted, and shorter because they are each memorized.

I learned a lot about myself coming back from a week adventure tired, impatient, and scatter-brained. Sometimes people annoy me because I want to be annoyed. Sometimes we are companions on a quest together: the goal unites us despite all differences.

God says we are all travelers just making our way to heaven, one day at a time, like the people in Hebrews 11:13-16 and 12:1-3:

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I come back to these passages over and over. Maybe because it makes it seem that the repetition of daily tasks is a tiny step closer to the goal each time. Maybe because it reminds me that the long, long days will grow suddenly short near the end.

As my dad would say, the long and short of it is, the road less traveled is hard to walk on, buy worth every step.

God, thank You for perspective on normal. Everything at home seems more special for staying the same. Thank You that time does not feel the same, and for seasons that change in life. Please help me to trust You in each change, and seek Your kingdom with the little I have. Thank You for examples of people who already did it, especially Jesus who created the trail. Please give me strength for the day, to Your glory. Amen.

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