When I was in high school, I was a member of the marching band. More specifically, I was a member of the color guard. You’ve seen us! We’re the ladies usually clad in something very tight, very shiny, and very glittery, strategically placed around the field with flags, rifles, and sabers in hand to give the field show a little more pizzazz. My high school band, The Pickerington Marching Tigers, was pretty amazing. We performed at all the half-time shows, marched and performed in parades in my community and around the country, and won many competitions during my four years in high school.
Not only was I in my high school band, I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, home of Ohio State and TBDBITL (The Best Damn Band In The Land; see above!), and I attended Howard University. Anyone who knows anything about Black College bands understands that no more needs to be said! So I’ve had my share of marching band indoctrination. I understand the process of creating shapes on the field. Without going into too much detail, there are lots of charts involved, each with a new formation and instructions on how to get from one shape to another. Each band member has a specific path that they must follow to contribute to the final goal. When it’s all said and done, and if everything has gone according to the charted plans, there has been a spectacular show and all the pictures have been achieved flawlessly, culminating in one final picture. In order to get to the final picture, each band member has to follow the charted plans and perform their designated turns, flanks, rotations, roll-steps, and pivots.
A pivot is defined as the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates (noun) or the actual act of rotation or turning (verb). All these marching band memories emphasize the importance of a pivot on the field. As I pondered more, I was forced to consider pivots in life.
At various points in our lives, we are faced with pivots. You may hear someone use the phrase “pivotal moment” in reference to a point in their life when a defining decision had to be made; a decision that altered the perceived course of their life. Sometimes pivotal moments are chosen. We have several options and we get to make the final decision, thereby deciding the new course or direction for ourselves. But sometimes, pivotal moments are forced. In our own understanding, they’ve come out of nowhere. They weren’t included in our 1, 5, or 10-year life plan. We didn’t put them on our vision board or include them on our prayer list. We never considered them, meaning we never prepared ourselves for them. But nonetheless, they came, forcing us to make an immediate turn, knocking us off the course we were on and moving us in a direction that was unplanned and uncharted…at least by us.
In my opinion, these pivotal moments, the ones that give us no warning and offer no option to choose differently, are the most important. These are the moments chosen by God to keep us on the path and purpose that He has chosen for our lives. These are the moments that could have us moving closer to the Promised Land, or keep us wandering through the wilderness for 40 years à la the Israelites. Because these pivots are not of our choosing, when they happen we find ourselves on a path where the final destination is unknown. The path may be rocky and cloudy, making it difficult to find our footing and scary to navigate. We’ve been forced into this change. Every answer to every question is “I don’t know”. These are the moments where our faith, trust, and obedience are tested and strengthened.
Recently, I found myself experiencing these kinds of pivotal moments. I’ve had many doors close in my face and many promising opportunities seemingly disintegrate into thin air. I’ve questioned whether I made a wrong turn somewhere. I’ve found myself looking back, retracing my steps, dwelling on the past to figure out just where I went wrong. The frustrating thing is that I cannot find where I went wrong. I’ve gone through my own checklist:
- Was I obedient?
- Did I follow peace?
- Have I wronged anyone?
- Nope. And if I did, I handled it accordingly.
So…uhhh…what’s going on?! Where did I go wrong?
Ok. So maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But anyone who’s been through this kind of change knows that THIS IS how it feels. You’re walking steadily along the path that you believe you’re supposed to be on, then you’re forced to make a quick turn and go in a direction that seems to take you further from your goal! In my questioning, praying, and chats with trusted friends, the answer I’ve received is “You haven’t gone wrong. Maybe this is just a pivot”.
Well, ok. I guess I don’t really have a choice. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You DO have a choice. You can exercise your faith and obedience and move along this new path, unknown and scary as it may seem. Or you can be defiant, dig your heels in, and prolong your own destiny.
Well when I think of it like that, the choice is clear!
What has been amazing is that in the midst of doors closing, other doors have opened. I’ve been challenged and encouraged to shift my thinking, be more creative, develop new ideas, and work on my own visions. But most importantly, I’ve re-learned and been reminded that God has an epic plan for my life and that He has never let me fall or fail. Indeed, in the difficult moments, “my clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on my feet”.* I’ve been reminded of the dreams I’ve had and prayed for since I was a child. And I’ve realized that those dreams are big. Big dreams require big shifts. Big visions mean that you can’t walk through any ol’ door. So when certain doors close I can rest easy, knowing that the opportunity behind that door is not meant for me, my vision, or overall good. It’s definitely not easy, especially when the new path is cloudy and seems neverending. But the strengthening that I’m experiencing in the process will only serve me in the end.
Learn to embrace your pivots. Don’t be so stubborn for your plan that you miss achieving the ultimate plan. Sometimes you get to choose your pivotal moments. Sometimes they’re chosen for you. In those moments, learn and embrace obedience. Just like the final picture that the marching band creates, the pivots that you must make will ensure that your journey is purposed, and your final destination, ordained.
*Deut. 29: 5