Getting Off the Train

train1Over twenty-one years ago I was on an Amtrak train on the way to Los Angeles. I was underweight from not eating enough and living on caffeine, I was on two kinds of medicine to stop heart palpitations and tachycardia (stress-induced), and I was exhausted. I was producing and hosting daily controversy on the Crosstalk Radio Talk Show, a daily local show called Homefront and filling in sometimes on the issues TV program, In Focus. At the same time, I was raising two little boys in a very difficult situation as a single parent. I sat on that crowded Amtrak train, thundering through the darkness, and I had an epiphany, one of those moments when your mind reveals in a flash what needs to be done.

In the middle of Illinois, on a cold January night, I got off the train in a small town at a brief train stop. I saw a sign for a Days Inn out the window, got my purse, and coat and got off the train. Really. I didn’t need to take the trip. I didn’t need to be on a dirty Amtrak train. I didn’t need more stress at the other end of the trip at a convention. What I needed was someone to say kindly to me, “Slow down, stop, this isn’t good for you. You’re killing yourself. Go home, put on your slippers, make some tea, and smile a bit with your kids.” So I got off the train.

After I left my radio job in 2011, I knew that certain stories were being circulated to explain my sudden departure. I learned a few days ago that this funny train story was one of them, told with a malicious spin. It occurred to me the other day that “getting off the train” is an apt metaphor for what we often need to do in life.

We thunder down the tracks in a specific direction, never questioning what we’re doing, assuming our presuppositions are correct and right for us, not realizing that something is out of whack. At times like that, we need to evaluate our situation, and if necessary, get off the train. Getting off the train is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength and clarity.

Many times in life, others will not protect you. They will use you until you collapse in a heap, and then they will walk away, shaking their heads at how you didn’t measure up. That’s why, with God’s help, internal evaluations of our own lives and priorities is crucial. We can’t count on others, even those physically closest to us, to do the job for us. It’s wonderful when they do act and guide in our best interests out of real love. But ultimately, we need to do the job ourselves and ask the Lord for honesty and humility in self-evaluation.

There is a time to stay on a train until it reaches its destination. As I jumped off onto that platform in Illinois, however, I knew I had made the right choice to get off, and I still laugh at my audacity and nerve at doing the right thing, even while being judged as a nutcase. Do what is best for your life and soul and don’t sweat the labels! Just smile, and find your way home.

14 thoughts on “Getting Off the Train

  1. Connie says:

    Thanks so much for your words of inspiration, Ingrid!! I too am about to jump off the train. I am not waiting for it to stop or even slow down. My train has jumped the tracks and is about to crash. I am happy to have made the decision and your thoughts helped me to realize that I am doing the right thing too. The words, “stop. this isn’t good for you you’re killing yourself” rang a bell with me. And your words, “Getting off the train is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength and clarity” made me feel better about my choice. Thanks for posting!!

  2. Sam says:

    It’s moments of reflection and decision like this that determine the course of our lives. That anyone would use it to mock you is beyond cruel.

  3. Carol says:

    Amen, Ingrid. It is so empowering when you make the right decision for yourself in the right time, God’s time, and He shows us the way. We need to follow Him and not man’s expectations of us. The steps of a righteous man or woman are ordered by the Lord. Sometimes when we are on the hamster wheel of life in survival mode we cannot see clearly until the Lord reveals things to us. Praise Him that He does! He will make our paths straight all for His glory and purpose! Proverbs 3:6

  4. Bonnie says:

    I jumped off the train too! I trusted God that I was doing the right thing and took a major leap of faith. I was hesitant because I thought money would be a big issue. God has provided and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

  5. Lisa Turner says:

    So beautifully put, Sis. The only time you stay on the train is if it’s headed in the right direction…and yours clearly wasn’t. You did the right thing then…and in 2011.

  6. Pat Barker says:

    Ingrid you are an inspiration to me. You are honest about who you are and allow us to see inside your heart…which is an encouragement to me. Thank you sister in Christ.

  7. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Thanks for the comments today. I wanted to share a joyful postscript to this. Two years after this train incident, the Lord sent me a wonderful, amazing gift named Tom Schlueter. In June, 1995, he married me and changed my life. Today is known as “Throwback Thursday” on social media where people post old photos from the past just for fun. I posted this one last night, and what strikes me most about the photo is how truly happy I was. The photo is the wedding shower thrown for me by my friend, Lynn Stanley, who is now in heaven. It was two weeks before our wedding. Tom came in and lifted my burdens and straightened my back, put joy in my life and we have walked together for 19 years in June. I just wanted to share that God did care for me and I can never thank him enough for that undeserved kindness. +SDG+

  8. celmur says:

    Thanks for sharing this..The Lord led you to get off that train….and all the way after that…
    Thanking Him ..along with you!

  9. ronwhited says:

    What a timely post,and one my family and I can surely relate to. Being active members of an AOG church we are ready to jump off the train and never look back . Surely the church was never intended to become the heart stealing machine it has become.
    Thank you for your frankness and fresh honesty Ingrid. There are many of us who are in your corner.

  10. Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing some of the painful episodes in your life, Ingrid. It reinforces the fact that there is hope and a “way out” when we trust in Christ, despite the “hirelings” all around us.

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