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June 10, 2024

Better Ways to Handle “Turning Points” in Life

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost

Lately, I've been thinking about "turning points," those critical life moments when you come to a fork in the road and need to decide which path to take.

You stand at a crossroads. And you can only choose one way. For instance,

Which college should I attend?
Whom should I marry?
Which job offer is best for me?

There are the paths we take, and the ones we don't. The roads we choose, and the ones that are chosen for us.

At times, we may wonder, "What if I had taken the other road? How would my life be different?"

In reflecting on my past, I have learned that sometimes things only make sense in hindsight.

When I was completing middle school, my parents divorced. I had lived in the same house, attended the same school, and had the same wonderful friends throughout my entire childhood. So it was quite a shock and challenge for me and my three siblings to suddenly move to another city, live with our Mom (no Dad at home), and start over.

It was a significant turning point in my life. Only, I didn't choose that path. My parents did.

At times, I've wondered how things would have turned out differently if my parents had stayed together and we never would have moved during the spring I turned 14.

• I never would have met Lisa, my best friend in high school, who pointed me to God's amazing love and forgiveness. I began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and it changed my life forever.

• If I had never come to know Christ as a teen, I never would have sought out a Christian college, or attended that college and met the lifelong friends I have now.

• I never would have attended a life-giving church where I met Alex (not his real name). We dated for a year, and broke up, but knowing him was very instrumental in my cross-country move from Wisconsin to Colorado years ago.

• If I had never moved to Colorado, I wouldn't have this job, or these friends, or…

You get the idea.

One change led to a host of other changes, most of which I never could have imagined.

But, I'm not wistfully looking back in regret. Instead, I'm grateful for God's guiding hand at all of life's crossroads, even when I didn't know He was there. Because I wouldn't be where I am today if those life events hadn't happened.

Honestly, I hated it when my parents split up, and it wasn't easy making new friends at a new high school in one city, and then another high school in another town (for 11th and 12th grade).

But God redeemed the losses and pain in my life. He made something beautiful from the discarded pieces, just like a beautiful quilt is often made from tossed-out scraps of fabric.

Turning points change us, for better or worse. They change our perspective and how we view things. Life's changes can make us bitter and angry, or we can choose to be hopeful and joyful despite our circumstances. Either way, it's what we do with the changes that come our way that makes a difference.

So, when there's a fork in the road—and changes come, what are some ways to better handle the turning points in our lives?

Your outlook makes a big difference for you and those around you. How you respond to change is a choice. You can have a victim mentality and a pity party, or you can look forward with hope. Things may not turn out the way you expected, but something good can still come from hard times.

Joni Eareckson Tada broke her neck in a diving accident at age 17, and her life changed dramatically in ways she never expected. Unable to use her limbs, she has been in a wheelchair for more than 55 years. Yet, Joni has inspired me and millions of others with her strong faith and courage to find purpose, despite her disability, as an international advocate for people with disabilities through her organization, Joni and Friends.

Turning points in life are an opportunity to reflect, and ask God what He is teaching you through this time of change. Often it's in the challenges that God reveals important life lessons. Perhaps it's time to make a courageous choice in a new direction. Have faith. Take a step. And see how God will work in your life for His good purposes.

When you come to a crossroads, and you need to make an important decision about which path to take, ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. Look at your options. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option. Then decide. Make a prayerful, informed choice. As you move forward, God will direct you. And if you make the wrong choice, He can certainly help correct your course.

Change doesn't have to be scary. Step out of your comfort zone and see what God has for you in this new season. If you don't handle change well, remember: Fear says, "I cannot handle this situation." Faith says, "God can."

When you surrender, and let go of how you think things are supposed to be, things can begin to change. Trust that even though you can't see how it's all going to work out, God does. He is faithful.

Turning points can provide a change in perspective, or lead you to a new direction. Graduating from college, for instance, can lead you into an exciting new job, the mission field, or starting your own business. A breakup, the ending of a relationship, can also be a new beginning as you shore up your self-esteem, discover more about God's love, and learn to make better choices in love next time.

The good news is that God redeems our losses and wrong turns in life. He is loving and faithful—and wisely in control—even when we do not understand. He can take your situation and turn it into something beautiful and worthy for His glory.

When the next turning point comes in my life—large or small—I choose to trust God to guide my path and empower me to make wise choices—and so can you.

The choice is yours.

Jackie M. Johnson is an author and blogger who writes inspiring content on growing a better life, the power of prayer, and encouragement for singles. Jackie has a heart to encourage single adults of all ages, and she has led numerous small groups and Bible studies for singles. Her books include the breakup recovery guide, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, Power Prayers for Women, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Connect with Jackie at JackieJohnsonCreative.com.

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