By BBC Admissions Office
Humanity has a fascination – maybe a borderline obsession – with journey stories. From Homer’s The Odyssey (700s BC) to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1390s AD) to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1720s AD) to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1950s AD), and so many more in between, the human race has been searching for its identity through adventures.
What is it about such perilous undertakings that ensnare us? It is almost as if our souls are longing to find where they belong. Whether it is a story or road trip, journeys give us the opportunity to escape our drum realities, to explore interesting places, to overcome the obstacles we are too scared to face in real life, and to discover who we really are. Sometimes you do not even need to leave your hometown to go on a journey. Henry David Thoreau famously exclaimed, “I have traveled a great deal in Concord,” meaning he has experienced plenty of adventure at home merely by observing and learning from nature.
Ever since humanity’s fall from grace, the need for journey has been woven into the fabric of our souls. We are wanderers by nature, and we are trying to get back to the place we once called home. If we do not discover who we are, we feel restless, we feel anxious, we feel unsatisfied, we feel confused, and we feel lost. Every single one of us is on a Hero’s Journey called life, and we all experience the same basic plot points (based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces):
The call to adventure
Sooner or later, and maybe right this moment, an opportunity or an experience will force you to confront the future that awaits you. You have the choice to slam the door and remain comfortable and naïve, or to accept the call and see where it leads you. You will never know the outcome of the path that awaits you unless you follow the path.
crossing the threshold
Moving forward in this journey will be difficult. It always is. And the first difficulty of the journey is a milestone to be celebrated because it means that you’ve actually begun the journey. You are no longer in the known world, but you are now in the unknown world of adventure. Be brave and persevere! It will be good for you. As John Quincy Adams once said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
A series of struggles and transformations
No good story is devoid of conflict. Conflict is necessary and unavoidable. One common conflict is disillusionment with the journey; at some point you may come to believe that the journey you are on has been a waste of time and energy (maybe even money). Maybe it has not gone the way you planned. Do not give up, because to give up and go home really would render the adventure a waste of time. Proverbs 16:9 encourages by saying, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” In the midst of conflict, the growth and the transformations that are happening in you may not be apparent, but that does not mean growth and transformations are not happening. Just because the journey goes awry does not mean God has forsaken you. In fact, God uses conflict to grow you and to write a better journey for you. Just trust Him.
Reaching the goal
You did not think the journey was pointless, did you? Nothing is pointless! Whether or not you set a goal, you will eventually reach a goal – a destination, a graduation, a relationship, a milestone, an object, a knowledge. The journey will reward you with something you never had before, something that has changed you, something that you can share with others.
You cannot stay on the same journey forever. The journey will come to a close and you will return to your known world a different person, a stronger person. Eventually, adventure will call you once again into a new unknown.
Answering the call to adventure is the hardest step because the unknown world can create paralyzing fear or disorienting uncertainty. Sometimes several calls are vying for your attention. Which to choose? Here are some tips to help you in choosing your path:
1. Choose your path based on your values and your faith.
Knowing what you value and what or whom you put your faith in is one the best ways to help decision making. If a path would compromise or conflict with a value, then choose a different path or do more research on your options. If those in whom you have faith do not affirm or approve of a path, then choose a different path or do more research on your options.
2. Choose your path based on how you want to grow.
Every path has different challenges, which will challenge different aspects of who you are. Choose a path that will challenge the areas of your being that you really want to mature.
3. Choose your path based on wisdom.
“The fear of the Lord God is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Wisdom is not merely common sense nor is it merely rationality; it is a powerful gift that can give you discernment, counsel, protection, faith, and hope. Fearing the Lord, putting your trust in His power and wisdom, is the first step in choosing a path of wisdom.
Choices can be scary, but they are the stuff of life. Learn to make good choices rather than emotional choices and you will have the greatest adventure.