My brother likes to joke with me about the way "The Road Not Taken" is interpreted.
"I shall be telling this with a sigh," he says, "doesn't have one meaning. A sigh of relief? Regret? Is the road not taken actually the road we SHOULD have taken or the road we're glad we escaped?"
Honestly, I don't think even Robert Frost knows. He's a sort of master of the double-meaning poem.
But what I'm about to tell you has everything to do with roads taken.
My grandmother's mother was an extraordinary woman. She had spunk and zest and a sense of humor. I've been very blessed in the "who came before me" department. My grandmothers on all sides have been downright amazing, incredible women.
Esther had many spiritual experiences in her life that were not commonplace. She recorded them, and here's the one I've been thinking a lot about lately:
"Not long after I found out the church was true for myself, I had a most unusual experience. It was in broad daylight just before noon. I was walking to the house and this voice stopped me and said, "Stop -I would like to show you the story of your life." So I stopped and he showed me the road I was going and it was just like I was doing and he said, "I don't want you to follow this road. I will show you the road I want you to do." It was a terrible road and I had many trials to go through and would stop and cry and then take up my troubles and go on and I said, "God, I don't want to follow that road." He said, "That is the road I want you to do." Then he showed me the kind of person I would be if I followed the road I was going. I never did any bad, but nothing good on this road. Then he showed me what I would be if I followed the road he wished me to go and I looked and I was a glorified being. I have tried to go that road, but I'm not sure I have or not."
I never knew grandmother Esther very well, but it is entirely possible that she had this experience for her posterity.
Could she have known that almost 100 years later, her great-granddaughter would be reading her words like a direct answer to prayers?
So often, I've found myself doubting myself.
This weekend, my beautiful sister came home from her mission. She spoke to our home ward with a Spirit so strong the entire chapel was SILENT. I haven't been in a silent chapel since I attended a Singles' Ward.
I looked at her, the way she'd changed and grown and I looked at myself and wondered...
Did I screw up big time?
Did I somehow jump into a marriage with a porn addict because I was too caught up in lust that I missed out on what I SHOULD have done?
Reading my great-grandmother's words brought me a kind of peace... I'm on the Glorified Being Road. I'm on the road where I'm doing bad -making so many mistakes. But if I'm doing bad that also means I'm DOING which means I'm bound to get it right once in a while because my heart is in the right place.
I can see my beautiful grandmother in her youth with her bobbed hair (scandal!) and animated eyes, traveling a dusty, rough, dark road with a few suitcases loaded with troubles.
And I am her.
I don't want to walk this road either.
But the only thing worse than this road is the other road.
Which is to say: the only thing worse than doing THIS is NOT DOING THIS.
Friday morning, after I argued with my husband I sat and cried and then I picked up my troubles and moved on.
Sometimes we need a good cry, but victory lies in PICKING UP and MOVING ON.
Give the tears their spot on the road, let them fly. But do not stop. Do not be content to suffer, Alicia. Do not be content with a life of martyring.
This IS the road the Lord would like me to follow because it's leading me in a jagged upward path to Him.
Push ahead on the dusty road.
Push through the darkness and the potholes.
Rouge your knees and roll your stockings down and PUSH!