This morning, I listened to a story on NPR about some interesting scientific research: Humans cannot walk in a straight line. The researchers placed participants in a field and asked them to walk in a straight line for an extended period of time. They did walk in a straight line for the first 20 steps or so, but soon they began walking in circles.
The blue lines above represent how people walk when given no outside indicators of their path, such as the sun. The yellow line is the path one participant walked when he had the sun to follow. According to the study, unless people have an outside focal point, such as a mountain or the sun, people will invariably walk in circles. They don't know that they are - they think they are walking straight.
I bet you see where my cheesy sermon illustration is going.
Recently, I've been reading a book on how to be a fantastic wife. I just finished it last night, so I'm pretty much perfect now. Reading through it, I'm reminded of times in the past when I was a Class-A Jerk-Face to Mike. At the time, I thought my actions or words were justified, and I was blameless. But in retrospect, I look back and can see what a winding path I took.
I can't help but wonder in what areas I'm currently being Bratty Ammy, straying off the path. Despite having completed that book, I don't think I've actually reached perfection. But it can often seem to me like my path is straight - I'm doing good, being a sweetheart. Until something external ups and bites me in the butt to remind me that my character still has a long way to go.
Without something external to me to point me in the right direction, I will usually think I'm a pretty swell gal. It's only when I look outside myself do I see where I am walking in circles, off the path. When I read the Bible, I get that gut feeling of, "Oh no, I'm being a big brat," and it helps me see where the right path is. Or when I read books or talk to others, God will use their words to gently nudge me in the right direction.
Luckily, it is not hopeless. I am not in the wilderness with no guide and only my own broken internal compass. God uses his Word to guide us, restore us, and bring us ultimately closer to him.
"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path." Galatians 6:1