I love trains. Not all trains. I love the steam locomotives of the old days. When my daughter was 9 months old, we rode an Amtrak train to meet family in Snohomish, Washington . When she was 4 we rode the Grand Canyon Railway. I also took her on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in an open boxcar where soot littered our faces and got into our smiling teeth. There's nothing like the majesty of the unpaved, undeveloped, and uninhibited countrysides that frame the backdrop for the tracks. For me there is peace in the solitude as we gently roll along.
In life, we can also experience a different type of train ride, one where the train is plowing down the tracks out of control.
A client once told me she "knew" conflict was going to happen. She shared exactly how it was going to play out. She had requested of her parents to not plan anything during a period of time she had set aside for vacation months in advance. She just knew they were going to ruin her plans. And, guess what, they did. Exactly how she said it would happen. Her response? "Well," she said, "I saw the train coming, they acted like they didn't care, they screamed at me, they told me it was not their problem. I asked them not to. They knew, and they did it anyway. I was so mad, I jumped on the crazy train right along with them!"
Why do we let people pull us into their insanity? We know it. Even when we are making the leap that there should be something we can do to change this...but we jump anyway. What compels us to do the same things we always have done? Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.
The apostle Paul said it this way,
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 17 For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7: 15, 17-20
Since the birth of man, there has been this battle of doing what comes naturally (even if it's insane), and it takes real effort to make our reactions different. Like I explained to my client, it takes the development of a plan ahead of time to avoid getting on the crazy train in the first place. So I asked her what she would do differently now that she's calm and has hindsight to her actions. She said, "I would just accept what they did and move forward with my plans anyway." I asked her if that was a real option for her. She gave it some thought and said, "Yes." She had determined she would move forward with her plans and let the crazy train continue down the tracks without her.
The Apostle Paul finds new understanding and changes his perspective this way,
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am!
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Change the unhealthy pattern by changing your choices. Make a plan to do something different the next time you see the train rolling down the tracks headed your way. When you recognize the steam billowing in the distance, get off the tracks.