I would love to be able to tell you that I reside in the house at the top of the hill on the street called “Better.” But I can’t. Not yet. However, I can tell you that my goal is to live there someday.
Where I really live is in a house on the corner of Bitter and Better. If I go out my front door and proceed east toward the intersection, I will then have a choice. I can go straight ahead onto Bitter, or I can turn to the right onto Better. Let me just say that Better is the more daunting route.
Bitter is a fairly easy street to take. It is relatively level and not very challenging. If I take it all the way to the end, I find a cul-de-sac and a sign that warns, “No Outlet.” I just turn around and come back to the house. I can walk this same route in the valley every day if I want.
Sometimes I choose Better, but not every time. I look in that direction, but the hill is steep. It is a challenge, and I know that after that first hill, there is another one. It is much more strenuous to take that street. I know that I will huff and puff going up that first hill, and most of the time I’m not willing to exercise quite that much.
I know that Better is not a dead-end street. Beyond the hills is a through street that leads to some major avenues. If I am willing to make the effort, I will be rewarded by new roads to explore. Of course I know that the results of the effort required by Better will be worth it in the long run. It’s just that, at the moment, I am always tempted to take the easier way.
When I choose Bitter, I am always joined by my walking buddies, B. Resentful and U. R. Justified. They are so sympathetic and they encourage me as we are walking that familiar path together.
“You are entitled to feel the way you do,” says U. R.
“How people can behave that way is beyond me,” says B.
They keep up this chatter all the way to the end of the street and back. It’s always the same. They want me to get the revenge that is due me and have the last laugh. It’s so easy to join in this conversation, but I never seem to feel refreshed or energized when I return home after the walk.
Today I find myself at the same intersection as every other day. I see B. and U. R. up ahead on the familiar route, but oddly enough, I am hearing another voice — the voice of my personal Trainer. I am remembering what He said the last time we had a session: “Today . . . I have set before you life and death . . . now choose life . . .”
I glance toward the right and see two figures waving at me. Shielding my eyes from the sun, I squint to see who they are. Oh, I remember them — Faith and Hope — from the neighborhood. They are beckoning me to walk with them, and they are smiling.
I know their route. They always walk all the way to the end of Better and turn onto that next through street, Joy. Then they proceed all the way to one of the main thoroughfares, Peace. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . if I have them as my exercise buddies every day, I can become fit enough to walk that route with ease.
I see B. and U.R. again. They are frowning. (They pretty much always frown.) If I choose Faith and Hope, I will have to leave those two behind, and I know that some days I will miss them. It is so difficult to leave old familiar companions, even if they drag you down.
The Trainer’s Words ring in my ears as I pause at the corner of Bitter and Better. Which will it be today? As always, it is my choice.