I love adventure and the thrill of the unknown. I also happen to love control. Recently I found this internal dichotomy raging during a Christmas outing with my family.
We had decided to go look at Christmas lights, but we wanted it to be bigger and better than last year, so we researched neighborhoods and found one that was competing for "best lights".
We printed out the map, grabbed the hot chocolate and cookies, put on our pajama pants and headed out. What we didn't plan for, however, was the rain...
Have you ever tried to read a map in the dark December rain??! For the love.
Naturally this annoyed me -- all I wanted was a fun night out with my family! But soon I became obsessed with following the map and seeing every house on it so my OCD started to usurp my joy!
Well, like the good wife I am, I turned my irrational annoyance onto my husband who, at the time, didn't think the map was necessary. He just kept aptly turning left and right like a blind man, causing us to miss every house! 🤯
But then we saw this gem.
It had lights and blow-up thingies all over the lawn and Christmas music to match its blinking lights. Without any warning, my husband pulled over and told us to "get out". We did (begrudgingly...I mean, it was raining!), but once that winter air hit our faces, everything changed.
Our kids immediately started laughing and singing Christmas carols while my husband and I smiled and walked slowly behind them.
As we stood there, batting the soft rain away with our eyelashes, my husband slipped his arm into mine and said, "Let’s ditch the map.” I hugged him back in response.
I feel like that's a word for us in 2021.
We all want this year to be different. We want the map to lead us beyond the rain and mind-numbing darkness and into predictable normalcy. But what if it doesn't? What if by focusing on the map (and consequently every wrong turn we've made) it causes us to feel more angst than peace?
And could it be that we weren't meant to be the ones driving anyway?
“You may make your plans, but the Lord determines your steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
How true this is, but how hard it is to follow!
I don't know about you, but surrendering control and letting someone else drive feels a lot like walking into a therapist's office for the first time. It's uncomfortable, awkward...and usually brings on lots of big emotions! But that‘s why God - in his infinite wisdom - reminds us that his ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
And THIS is how we ditch the map.
We are able to pivot and change direction when we lean MORE on our omnipotent cartographer (the one who designed the map) and less on our measly interpretation of it (Proverbs 3:5).
This doesn't mean we stop dreaming or making plans. It just means we don't get our undies in a bunch when things turn out differently.
Plus, could it be ... that just maybe ... the detours of life sometimes help us? I mean, here's what my middle child said after our (almost disastrous) Christmas outing:
"Mom, I love how when things don’t go our way, we always take a different direction, even if we don't know where that direction's gonna take us."Ah! I'm so thankful this was her take away!
Adventure awaits us all, my friends, but how will we embrace it this year? Will we white knuckle it? Get mad when we're blinded by the rain? Or will we occasionally let someone else drive?
There's no perfect year -- no perfect map or formulaic equation to ensure a stress free life. But there is a way to experience peace when the "2020s" of life happen and the 💩 is flying everywhere yet there's no TP in sight. We can still shine bright when we follow him -- a God who is gentle and humble in heart, who gives us rest for our weary souls, no matter what (Matthew 11:28-30).
So let's ditch the map in 2021. And let him take the lead.