Certainly it might seem that the quickest path is the straightest line between two points but have you ever noticed or wondered whether the quickest path is the best path? When was the last time you ever took the long way home? Nine times out of ten, any of us would opt for a short cut.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend who told me about a hiking trip he took recently with his family on vacation. He said they started by following a marked trail but somehow made a wrong turn and ended up walking probably four or five miles longer than planned. The path was not easy either and required everyone to step out of their comfort zone to complete the journey. The day was warm and drinks of water became measured sips instead of lengthy gulps. The granola bars they snagged at the last minute were like gold in their hand with each hour that passed. What started out as a leisurely stroll through the woods became an adventure where everyone needed encouragement to climb steep hills and reassurances that they would eventually make it back to the car. They pulled together as a unit and individually each person was challenged in different ways to get to the end of the trail. When it was completed, each family member felt a little bit stronger and more confident about their abilities. It was a growing experience they would have missed out on had they followed the quickest or straightest path.

Sometimes I may need to go through some rocky terrain or over some mountains that I would prefer to stay away from in order to gain some particular insight or point of view. Other times it may be necessary for me to find some parking spot out in the desert and suffer through a drought. Why? Because it’s in those times I find myself actually growing and maturing. In fact, what I have discovered in life is that it’s not the quickest, easiest, or fastest way that always brings me the greatest joy—but in many cases it’s the road less traveled.

In today’s busy world, people are always looking for a quick way to get ahead. There’s the person who jumps lanes at the grocery store trying to find the shortest one. How about the man or woman who ignores the construction sign indicating a lane is closing up ahead and chooses instead to continue driving and then cut in at the last second? Or the person who latches onto the first get-rich-quick scheme they see in order to avoid the hassle of looking for work in their field.

Who knows what could have happened or what insight would be gained if these people had been more patient and waited in line, moved their car over sooner, or put forth some effort to look for a job. I’ve discovered that the long cut can sometimes take more of my time and cost me a little bit more, but the payout can bring more delight to the inner realms of my soul. I want to set an example for those who are following me so that they will know I don’t always find joy and happiness from the quick, happy little moments but rather from the long, plotting times where I try to do something of significance.

Next time you find yourself at a crossroads, consider taking the long way home.