Adulthood begins with the realization that choices matter.

It’s probably America’s best known poem, if not its most beloved. Perhaps because it’s as simple as it is universal. There’s no doubt about the clarity of scene, which Robert Frost creates, though folks disagree whether the poet is at peace, or disturbed, by the decision made. 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
 
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 

To be human is to choose. None of us can recall a time in life when we weren’t making choices. We can remember childhood, waiting for the day when all the decisions would be ours rather than those of the adults in our lives. Now, years later, we realize that the burden of being an adult is having to choose, always having to choose, knowing that, whatever road you take, another has been left behind. Indeed, one might say adulthood begins with the realization that choices matter.

Advertisement

Of course even adults can change their minds. We sign up for something new. We leave something else. But adults should also know that any choice of substance changes us forever. To use the image of the poet, we don’t just follow one road rather than another. We become the road. We become something entirely new because of the people we meet and the experiences we have. Someone unaffected by the people and events of life is childish. The one who isn’t changed by encounters with others is truly shallow. That’s why those who commit to each other become more suitable, more fruitful to the other, as they pass through time. Something shared grows within them, a common humanity, the effect of their walking the same road. 

Christ comes to us as a person, not a creed. Nothing wrong with creeds. Those without them don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been. But Christ is more than an assertion, a belief about the world. He is a person, one who wants to walk with us through life. 

To think of him when we must choose, to come prayerfully before him with a decision in mind, is to travel through life with him. It isn’t that he makes the decision. That remains our blessing, our burden. But we make a different decision in his company. Walking with him has the same effect as walking with any other loved one. As times goes on, we become more and more like Christ, and he becomes more and more apparent in who we are. To walk with another is slowly, but surely, to share life itself. The road doesn’t simply take us somewhere. We become the road.

Jesus called himself the “Bread of Life.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6: 66-69).

 

Some choices can be changed, but the ones that really matter will always leave their effects. They make us who we are. To walk away from them would be to lose our very selves. 

Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b   Ephesian 5: 21-32   John 6: 60-69

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Carlos Leon
2 years 3 months ago
So true, and many persons miss the meaning of the first reading also. My wife and I become the same road and our children grow on that road so when they leave they know that choices will be theirs. A family grows only when a man and woman understand and accept their roles in a marriage. In going back to the gospel, It is amazing to me that people walked away from Jesus, being so physically close to him hearing his voice and feeling his presence, throughout history people chose their roads and god's in pursuit of happiness. I choose Jesus, his peace; happiness follows.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Images: CNS/Composite: America
On Nov. 11, the Catholic Church lost a moral titan in the long struggle for racial equality and justice in the United States.
Shannen Dee WilliamsNovember 22, 2017
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar military commander-in-chief, speaks during the Union Peace Conference Aug. 31 in Naypyitaw (CNS photo/Hein Htet, EPA).
Gen. Min Aung Hlaing wields great political power in the country.
Jacob Tremblay and Julia Roberts in “Wonder” (CNS photo/Lionsgate). 
‘Wonder’ is a tween melodrama on a mission of mercy.
Simcha FisherNovember 22, 2017
The change was in “no way” a response to the C.C.H.D.’s persistent online critics, an archdiocesan official says.
Kevin ClarkeNovember 22, 2017