The metro lurches forward as I grab frantically for the handlebar that seems way too far above by head. My already death-defying balancing act is made worse by the jostling of the train and my ever present three inch wedges. My wanting to not get too close to the passengers for fear of being touched does not help the situation either. I am alone on the metro on my first ever trip to DC.
Above the din of the morning commute, a moment of static over the PA breaks the monotony, “Next stop, Eastern Market!” I glance over my shoulder to the metro map poster like a proclamation on the wall of the train. Eastern Market?! I was attempting to make my way to the airport, how did I get on the wrong train…again? Here I was, laden with luggage, crammed in a train with a mass of suited men on their way to important CEO jobs in the city, and going in the wrong direction. A flood of emotions rush through me: anger at having gotten on the wrong train, worry that this mistake will cause me to miss my plane, embarrassment in the realization that I have to get off of this train, and fear of being judged by my fellow passengers; not to mention ED in my ear chiming in with her thoughts on the situation. Growing up in Cincinnati, I am ill-prepared for public transportation (after all, we have the largest number of vacant and unfinished subway tunnels in America from our first foray into public transportation in the early 1900’s) and this mishap only further proved the point.
At Eastern Market, the doors parted and a sea of early morning commuters scuttled to fill the empty spaces. With my head down, I gathered my things and forced my way back onto the blue line platform back to Rosslyn hoping no one noticed me. Back to the beginning. Time to start fresh. With a second, third and even fourth glance at the metro map, I started again on my journey to the airport, taking with me what I learned from getting on the wrong train and even the emotions that came with that mistake. I did, eventually, make it to the airport.
I would like to say that this is the only time during my trip to DC that I found myself lost. Unfortunately, I am, what my father refers to as, directionally challenged. More often than not, in my six days in DC, I found myself taking a wrong turn while walking somewhere, getting on the wrong train or trapped in a pack of loquacious junior high schoolers on their class trip. These misadventures, while frustrating, taught me that it is perfectly acceptable to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and apply this new knowledge to live a happier, healthier life. I could very easily have sat in the metro station wallowing in the self-hate of having made a mistake or cried in the middle of Independence Avenue looking for the NationalMuseum of the American Indian or engaged in ED’s behaviors while she told me how stupid I was for making those mistakes…but I did not. I chose to do the next right thing. This often included asking for help; a concept that, to this day, frightens me.
However, in life, as in recovery, it is not possible to go it alone. No one person knows all the answers; asking for help shows you are willing to grow, learn and seek out new knowledge. I also learned that, after making a mistake, I must begin again anew. When lost on the streets of DC by myself, I traced my way back to the metro station and tried a new route, and tried a new route after that to get to where I needed to be. Just because I had made one mistake, did not mean I needed to keep making mistakes. The same is true with recovery. Just because I used behaviors once, does not mean I need to continue using them. Every minute is an opportunity to begin again with recovery. Do the next right thing. Have grace with yourself. Ask for help. Learn from your mistakes. Never stop seeking recovery. You are worth it.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.