Punctuality is instilled in most of us from an early age. This could be in the form of punishments handed out by teachers for missing form class, being benched for turning up late to training sessions, or getting in trouble with parents for not completing chores by an 'agreed' time.
There are also more inevitable and natural consequences for not being on timeâsuch as missing buses and planes. If you miss a job interview or an appointment then it's no one's job to work out an alternative arrangement for you.
Basically, as you get older, if you don't turn up then you can't expect to get anywhere. As you leave the safety net of school and your family home, your life becomes your responsibility.
Flying the nest
Moving out and leaving education requires you to suddenly make a lot of decisions about what you're going to show up for. What jobs do you want to go for? What hobbies are you going to keep up with? What friends are you going to stay in touch with? How are you going to keep yourself healthy? These fundamental things determine your quality of lifeânecessary, but never so completely in your control.
Some people may react to me saying we have control but to say otherwise is to reject responsibility. Of course God's hand may intervene and I am not claiming we have control of the ultimate outcome. But we do control what we put our hands up for. In this way we narrow down potential outcomes that may shape the course of our lives.
Of course some decisions bear more weight than others. Deciding whether to have pizza for dinner is not quite the same as deciding whether to take a job posting. Some decisions have knock on effects and others are more reversible.
Life is such a dynamic force. As individuals we are all muddling along trying to forge a meaningful path for ourselves, hopefully leading us in the direction we are being called. Then all of a sudden someone forces you to stop in your tracks and consider where you're going.
Sometimes it's a friend who inspires you to walk more boldly and with courage. Sometimes it's someone who makes you want to walk with them rather than fiercely battling on your own. Unfortunately, sometimes you can be distracted by a meeting and disorientated to the point progress slows or even reverses.
Our susceptibility to each of these scenarios comes down to where our gaze is at the time. Whether it is internalâscanning wildlyâor focused on a fixed point. It is natural to go through phases of each as we come across obstacles and take on challenges that alter our overall perspective.
Some of my most treasured memories have come from situations fraught with complications and challenges. After all, deeper connections with other people are built during these times.
I have old friends I feel I have always known, and people who leave my life as quickly as they cameâtheir influence does not necessarily directly correlate to the duration of the acquaintance.
Equally, there have been times in my life where I've felt God walking with me and others when I have not been aware of him at all.
Keeping on moving
The way I see it, the worst thing I could do would be to stand still in these moments; trying to make progress without moving is counter intuitive when you think about it.
I have learned the best way to grow and shape your journey is to be quick to put your hand up but a little bit slower to say 'yes'. It is important to be counted but you also have learn when it's the right time to make those big changes. This is when having God to turn to is the greatest tool one can have.
Helen McIntosh is a 22 year old trying to create more than she consumes. Writing is a way of banishing any circulating thoughts to make way for the new.
Helen McIntosh's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/helen-mcintosh.html