*Fingers crossed I don’t get sued over the title 😉
Last week I took a little trip to my therapists home office up in Argyle, which from where we live seems like it might as well be Oklahoma. Not only that, I was headed up there at 4:30 in the afternoon….so rush hour. It honestly wasn’t that bad of a drive and I even had time to stop at Starbucks for a drink, but as I was headed home I realized how quick the drive back seemed. I mean, true, it was no long rush hour, but it wasn’t just about the actual time. This time I knew where I was going. Have you ever experienced that phenomenon? Driving to a new place can seem to take forever, but the way back (or subsequent trips) always seem to be faster. What would you call that? Don’t worry, I did the research for you. Apparently it’s an actual thing and it’s called the “return trip effect”. See…it’s on the internet here, so it must be real.
These days we’re all pretty obsessed with finding the fastest route to get to where we’re going. Google maps gives you at least 3 options and then there are any number of apps designed to specifically navigate you around hazards that might delay you more than 3 minutes. Stalled car on the tollway? Ain’t nobody got time for that! I’ll admit, I am usually obsessed with finding the most efficient path. Whether it’s driving or just walking in the mall, my brain is on high alert for “hazards” that might slow me down. One might think that having a child with cancer would force you to take your foot off the gas and appreciate the journey, but it actually took me a second time around the cancer block to get this through my thick skull.
It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time people actually took the scenic route (crazy, right?). Driving through small towns on two-lane roads was considered part of the fun. When was the last time you took a trip and thought “which way will take us through the most speed traps (I mean small towns)!”? Probably not since you were a kid and your parents were doing the driving. The problem with obsessing over the fastest route is two-fold. First, you spend a whole lot of energy deciding your route only to be sorely disappointed when you hit road construction (because in Texas there is ONLY road construction). Secondly, you miss all the good stuff, like the world’s largest ball of yarn or the national museum of funeral history (ok, maybe that’s a little morbid given our current situation)…but you get the point!
A few weekends ago we took a trip to Galveston and my sisters joined us for part of the time. They left on a Friday, and a 5 hour trip took them almost 8 hours. At one point my brother-in-law just got off the highway and took a 2-lane side road. It may not have been faster, but he said it was a whole lot less stressful. No traffic, no construction.
I can say from experience that there is real value to be found in taking the long way around. It’s quieter and less white-knuckle-on-the-steering-wheel frantic. That’s how I would describe my current situation in life. Slower, quieter, unplanned, no expectations. I wish this was a path I had chosen voluntarily long ago, but I’ve never been good at being told what to do. Or having patience for doing things the slow way. Or for people who do things the slow way 😉 What this time away from work has shown me is that when you’re franticly searching for the best, most efficient way you’re usually not thinking about God’s way. God’s way is rarely quick (much to my dismay), but it’s always better than what I can plan.
God’s way is not always without pain. Maybe not physical pain, but rarely without some sort of major uncomfortable-ness. Sticking with what is familiar is rarely going to be difficult until you’re forced to face an unimaginable life change. We live life in a never ending loop of the “return trip effect”. We stay in jobs that leave us unfulfilled because we’re too afraid to trust where God is calling us to. The logistics of finances and “making it work” are too overwhelming to process. It’s easier to stay comfortably numb and make the same commute day in and day out. I say all of this as I’m currently smack dab in this dilemma; wrestling every day with what choice I’ll make after my time off work runs out. Will I go back to the comfortable or step out in faith to something entirely new (and frankly frightening)? The old me is fighting hard to make a plan so that the new path feels comfortable before I even step foot on it, but the new me knows that’s not how it works.
It’s going to be uncomfortable to give up control and let God work, but it’s the only way to truly experience what He’s working on for me. Looking in my basket I see only enough bread and fish to feed me, but when I place that basket in God’s hands he will multiply it beyond my imagination. I don’t need to know how, just to DO.
How will it turn out? (Literally) God only knows, but what I know is that it won’t come from my doing. I get to be the passenger this time. I’ll keep you posted along the way!