Standing at the Crossroads

Rainbow at the Crossroads
Photo by Saloma Furlong

Have you ever found yourself at a life crossroads when you know if you take a right, your life will turn out differently than if you take a left or keep going straight? It seems David and I find ourselves in that place about every 7-10 years. That is where we are finding ourselves now.

We know what direction we hope to go in. But until the Fulbright Commission in Germany notifies me of their decision concerning my proposed project, it remains out of our hands to take that direction. I found out that I will be notified of their decision anywhere between March 14 and April 3, not in February as I had originally thought. Patience is not one of my virtues, so I’m finding this time of waiting quite difficult.

In the meantime, I am moving in the direction of my dreams. I am preparing our home as if we will put it on the market, which is what we plan to do if I get the Fulbright. We have received several assessments from local realtors for the value of our home and I am sprucing up the house with an eye for how it will show well.

I am also auditing a class at Smith two nights a week. The class is reconstructing the village of Kippenheim, Germany, according to their 1845 census and other records of that time. This is similar to the kind of research I will be doing in Germany, should I get that opportunity.

Most of my time, however, has been spent on sorting through our belongings: every drawer, every closet, and even the bins in the attic. I’m getting rid of things we no longer need, and consolidating and organizing the belongings we are keeping.

There is one floor of the house that I have not sorted. It is the basement, where David’s woodworking shop is. He feels that is his domain, and so I honor that, as hard as it is for me to refrain from going down there and trying to order that, too. It is a good lesson for me — that some decisions are not up to me.

As I sort, I have time to ponder, especially as I come across things that take me back to another era of my life. It dawned on me the other day that all this sorting and organizing is an attempt to order my life in this time of uncertainty. I keep saying a prayer, asking God to guide the decision of the judges, and that I be able to accept whatever decision comes my way. I always end with, “Thy will be done.”

David and I have ongoing discussions about what direction we will take if I don’t receive the Fulbright. We thought we had a direction. And then yesterday David was offered a promotion in his job. He cannot give an answer until we know what the Fulbright decision is, since he plans on accompanying me to Germany if I do receive it. If he does eventually take it, it would mean that we go straight ahead at this juncture in our lives, instead of taking a turn.

Being in this place of unknowing is uncomfortable for me. I function much better after I’ve made a crucial decision and I’m moving in the direction of a particular goal. But for someone who seems to reinvent herself every 7-10 years, it means I have to go through this period of uncertainty before I can clarify which goal I’m moving towards.

I realized the other day, as I was sorting through letters from my Amish days, that had I accepted my Amish life as my own, my life path would have been determined for me. Most everything would be stable and predictable. Likely that stability would stamp out opportunities for adventure and new beginnings, along with eliminating these periods of uncertainty. That brings me around to accepting the uncertainty and being grateful for having the freedom to choose the direction of my life (mostly). And if one direction is not open to me, then hopefully at least two others will be.

I love my life. I am so grateful for all the Blessings God has bestowed on David and me. We have one another, and that makes all the difference.

The photo I am sharing reminds me that God is with us and that he offers us hope, no matter which direction we take at the crossroads.

If you have pointers for how you deal with uncertainties in your life, I would love to hear them.

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25 thoughts on “Standing at the Crossroads”

    1. Katie, you make a good point. We can only make so many choices to affect our future. In the end, it really is in God’s hands.

      We can, however, learn how to deal with uncertainty. Some people are better at that than others. I’m not so good at it.

  1. Hi Saloma, When I have gone through uncertain times, and periods of stress because of upheaval in my life, I pray for guidance. Then when the dust settles and things fall into place, I find I see it as a story with a beginning, middle and end. It makes sense, and I can better understand the situation that I just lived through. It makes sense after the fact. I hope you can understand what I’m trying to say. Things always happen for a reason, and when you come through this period, you will see that whatever happens was meant to be. Wishing you the best….Christine

    1. Christine, I do understand what you are saying. In fact, when I look back at other events in my life, I see the truth of what you are saying. Praying for guidance is a wise thing to do.

      Thank you for your support, Christine.

  2. Waiting for such a big decision has got to be tough, but I like what you did with seeing it in contrast to what our Amish life would have been like, seeing being able to have this uncertainty as a part of the life you chose. Do you know how long you’d be in Germany? Sounds like quite a while, if you’re planning on selling your house before you go. Just think, in any case, you’ve cleared out and downsized, and that is valuable no matter what happens. We’ll be waiting, holding our breaths, for your post about the decision, hoping you get the Fulbright!

    1. Johanna, thank you for your supportive words. Yes, we’d be in Germany just under a year.

      And yes, the clearing out is a good thing, no matter what happens. I much prefer order to clutter in my life. And if we do move, it will be such huge step in that direction!

      Thank you for rooting with me. I appreciate that more than you know.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Pingback: Standing at the Crossroads – Former Amish News

  4. You’re handling it well in spite of it all. :) Relax, breathe deeply, and live each moment fully. I try to remember that the thought patterns I form during my times of waiting will affect my level of enjoyment in my next phase of life. Parts of Psalms 25 have been helpful to me at this time in my life: “Oh, Lord, I trust you. I wait on you and I will not be ashamed. All your paths are loving kindness and truth because I believe your word.” I pray your doors to Germany will open wide!

  5. Beth A. Sholly

    Liminal spaces…uncomfortable indeed. To translate that into plainer english…limbo land, doing the limbo with your life. I’d also love to be making some big changes, but nothing seems to gel. So in the meantime I do what you are doing, purging, cleaning, planning, pondering. And if that doesn’t work I do what seems to come all too easy…buy sports gear! First it was two bikes, then two kayaks, and now two recurve archery bows. Wouldn’t you know, archery shops around here are Amish. Blessings to you in the waiting.

    1. Beth, thank you for your thoughts. Now there is something I’ve not tried. I have a bike, so I don’t need another. David and I have a canoe, so we don’t need kayaks. And as for archery bows, well, I’ve not tried those, lol.

      Blessings to you. too, Beth.

  6. For the most part I am all for taking the middle road, seems safer there!! However, life doesn’t always go that way and change comes, if you allow it and some times when you lest expect it. Most of the changes in my life, those that came and those i chose have been, in the end, a good thing. They have made me stronger, wiser and who I am today. The middle road, I have come to realize though safer doesn’t help you grow as a person.New places, new experiences, new people is the water that grows the seed of knowledge. Whether I steady the course or choose to go another way I always bring it to God first. I try to make Him my navigator. He after all knows whats best for me. However,life can be messy, uncertain and I often times lack the patience to “Be Still” and wait on Him. It’s so hard!!! Saloma, I know in the end God is going to do whats best for you and David and you are so wise to prepare for what ever direction you two will go. Your words, as always, inspire me, challenge me and show me a better way to handle life’s changes.

    1. Pamela, thank you for these thoughts. I think the turns in life bring more struggles… but as you point out, it is precisely our struggles that make us wiser and stronger. At least if they don’t embitter us.

      I know, too, that what happens is what is meant to happen. Getting involved in projects helps, but so does beings still and listening to the inner dialog. So I do both.

      Thank you, Pamela, for your heartfelt compliments. And thank you also for prompting me to write a blog post. It helps to have such appreciative readers as you!

  7. It is disappointing that you have not received an answer on such a big decision yet. I was sure you would be packing your bags for Germany by now, and you probably did, too. The good news is, either way, your future looks promising and there will be blessings on either road. One thing I always pray is that God will make my path so clear to me that I can’t help but walk in His will. Wishing you blessings along the journey, as always!

    1. Monica, thank you for your support. I won’t be packing my bags just yet. If I do get it, we’ll be leaving in late August/early September.

      Interesting, David and I have been hoping to reach clarity. I love the way you worded it, though.

      Thank you for your blessings, and I wish them right back on you.

      1. Oh good, because I was thinking we should get in at least one phone call for a good old chat before you flee the States for finer pastures. I still have such a good feeling that you will get that Fulbright. When the right topic and the right researcher collide, doors open.

        1. Monica, I would love a nice catch-up chat with you!

          Thank you for the positive thoughts about my Fulbright candidacy. I keep hoping exactly that. The challenge is that in Germany, younger people tend to be given more of these kinds of opportunities, which I do understand. I hope life experience will be a good substitute for my youth being a thing of the past.

          Many blessings. Please send me an email and let me know when will be a good time to chat.

  8. Blessings as you wait in…patience..!!! At times that can be hard,I know! And as you wait, continue to sort,sort, sort, & let your findings be a treasure chest of memories…some good, some not so pleasant, some a bit painful, but all the making of who you are today… I have been sorting through things also. I have had to decide what to keep, what to dispose, ect, etc. Especially hard are some things that have sentimental value to me, but will never have to my children. Why keep it & then leave them with the burden of disposing it?? May you experience peace as you wait at the crossroads…

    1. Mary Ellen, you offer wise words. Your reasons for sorting are right along the lines of my own. And I know what you mean about the sentimental stuff. We have some of that from David’s father that he cannot part with, so hopefully our sons will be interested someday in the letters he wrote to his girlfriends and parents when he was on a submarine during WWII, his sailor uniform, and the like.

      I must say, I am partial to letters myself. I have so many that I kept over the years that I cannot part with. I keep thinking in this digital age, we are not leaving behind traces of what our lives were like. Someday people may see value in antique letters…

      Thank you for your support, Mary Ellen. It means so much. Many blessings to you.

  9. Saloma my friend, you and I could not be more different. There’s no order in my life as I daily fly by the seat of my pants. Things just seem to happen and that gives me joy as I travel along the backroads of my life. Each day begins with expectations and ends with experiences…which ever path you take will be a blessing. I wish you the best on your journey. Your friend Tom

    1. Tom, your life journey sounds so exciting and free. As I get older, I tend to be more drawn to “order” in my life. But I also like the adventures, or else I wouldn’t have applied for the Fulbright. So I try to balance the two.

      And you are so right… whichever path I take will indeed be a blessing. And I will give thanks and be glad in it.

      Blessings along the backroads of life!

  10. I’m with you Saloma and understand where you are. What keeps me moving forward is the thought that all of life is about “uncertainty.” We wake up every morning and anything can happen, as I recently rediscovered when a friend of our suddenly died. Being thankful that we do have choices and attending to those things that are most important is how I try to keep moving in this sticky sea of molasses we travel through. I hope you find out about your Fulbright very soon and join you in patience as the days move forward.

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