Making a U-Turn in Life

by Don Smith

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On my drive this morning, my mind was a million miles away, and I took a wrong turn. As soon as I realized my mistake, my mind suddenly started making excuses as to why I should stay on the same course.

“It's only a little longer this way.”

“There's a gas station up here, why not go there and get a soda since you're already heading this direction?”

“You'll look silly turning around.”

“Give it up dude, you screwed up. Turn it around.”

I kept driving for a few more seconds before admitting defeat and turning around, even though the most logical thing to do and the fastest way to get to my destination would have been to make an immediate u-turn and head back the way I had just come as quickly as possible.

Isn't that what many of us do in life?

Newton's first law of motion states, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

We're wired to stay in motion, to continue down the path we started, or to do nothing and remain right where we are. That's why I always tell people to get started. Once you start, the momentum will help keep you going.

No U-Turn - Sometimes it's hard to turn around in life
For Better or Worse, It's Hard to Turn Around

Unfortunately, it also means that we'll fight any thought or person who tells us we're on the wrong path. That's part of the reason alcoholics and drug addicts will consciously or unconsciously fight to keep their bad habits even though their life is crumbling around them.

It's like trying to stop an enormous boulder rolling down a mountain; they have to crash into a massive wall that doesn't move or hit bottom to stop their momentum. If you're the one trying to stop that boulder, it probably won't feel so good when it slams into you.

How Do You Know When You've Made a Wrong Turn?

But how do you know when you've gone the wrong direction in life and need to make a u-turn? That's a little trickier than figuring out you've made the wrong turn when driving.

There's a little test in the Bible that I always like to check myself by. Regardless if you believe in God or not, this is as good of a test to see if the path we are on is the right one as any I've ever found. This test is laid out in Galatians, which is a letter that Paul, one of the most influential leaders in the Christian faith, wrote to some early churches in southern Galatia after having a hand in starting them.

Galatians 5:13-26

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.

Is your current path leaving you with feelings of love, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If not, it may be time to make a u-turn.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

  1. Well said, Don. I spent 2 months in Cappadocia, Turkey earlier this year. Me and my wife were about 6 hours north of Tarsus, birthplace of Saul aka Paul. His wisdom rings true. Use your gifts for service, not pure self-service, and you will be happiest AND worldly success will increase for you too, as an added bonus, a cherry on top.

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