“Sometimes when you lose your way, you find YOURSELF.” ~Mandy Hale
About eight or nine years ago I saw a bumper sticker with a quote in big, block letters. It said:
“Not all who wander are lost.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien
I bought it. I wasn’t quite sure why since I knew I wouldn’t be sticking it on my car, but something compelled me to buy it anyway. I went home and placed the sticker in the corner of my bedroom mirror where it sat for years to come.
Every day I would wake up and that quote was one of the first things I saw. It always brought me a certain sense of comfort or reassurance, but I wasn’t sure why.
At the time I wasn’t wandering or lost. In fact, life was pretty stable. I was healthy. I had a full-time job. My living situation was good. I was happy with how life was working out and the direction I was going in.
But years passed by and life presented some difficulties. There was a time when I was no longer at that job, my living situation was tenuous, my heart was broken, I was run-down, and I wasn’t sure what was next.
It felt like the opposite of stable.
Somewhere along the way I lost that small, rectangular, black and white bumper sticker, but the message stayed in my head, coming to me in moments of particular unrest.
Often I would think back to the day I bought the bumper sticker and wonder why I reached for it, never knowing that the dollar investment would someday serve as a life preserver.
But then I came to the realization that maybe, just maybe, I bought it knowing that one day in the future I would need it. Maybe a part of my soul knew that someday that sentence would become a mantra repeated in my head day in and night reassuring me that eventually I would find my way.
The mantra reminded me there was a purpose for where I was and how I was feeling—even if it wasn’t immediately clear. The mantra was a promise I wouldn’t be in that spot or struggling forever. It gave me faith that eventually I wouldn’t feel “lost” anymore.
It turned out I was right.
I thought of that bumper sticker the other day when I saw this shirt.
“Get lost to get found.”
I smiled. It was a reminder of the great beauty of being unsure.
Being unsure led me on new paths where I met new people. It brought me to new places and pushed me in directions that led to new opportunities.
It brought me wonderful things I could have never imagined.
And somewhere along the way I realized that being “lost” was the best blessing of my life.
Seeing the shirt also reminded me of the journey I’ve been on—the one I’m still on. Do we ever really know if we’ve arrived or have found ourselves? What does that even mean? I’ve realized life is a constant journey of exploring, searching, traveling, learning and discovering.
It’s finding yourself every day and moving forward no matter what.
It’s wandering and being okay—better than okay—with that.
It’s realizing that each day is a gift and there is a beauty—and reason—to how it unfolds, no matter how imperfect it may seem… especially then.
Thank you for the little messages that pop into our lives that may seem insignificant at first, but quickly become guideposts and guidance when we need them most.
Because sometimes, something as small as a bumper sticker becomes much more. It becomes the comfort we need. It becomes the promise of hope or a push to keep going.
It can be the words of wisdom that stick to a bumper, a mirror or our minds, shaping and growing us in life enhancing ways.