Travel life with a reliable map

My daughter and I recently went on a road trip. As we headed for home, I spoke this phrase into my phone: “Hey Google, navigate to Hillsboro, Kansas.” It responded: “OK. Navigating to Hillsboro, Kansas.” And off we went.

For the first few miles, landmarks were relatively familiar, but then we veered. As if it weren’t enough of an adventure for the two of us to travel to a different state without the rest of the family, we found ourselves on a road never traveled—by us, anyway. All I wanted was the interstate. But would we get there?

I will admit, I felt stressed at first. After all, if you’ve been reading my column for awhile, you might remember the time I took a road less-traveled and got the van stuck in a bog. It wasn’t beyond me to imagine the paved, maintained road to transition to dirt and muck.

But once I had a chance to zoom Google Maps (way) out, I breathed a sigh of relief. The interstate would come. Eventually. So I relaxed at the wheel, and smiling, embraced the curve-ball journey.

The road was windy. The roadside towns were small to itty-bitty. But the scenery was captivating, encapsulated in the sky, large and blue. My daughter and I were excitable as we looked around at all the new-to-us landscape. It was like we had found a secret treasure.

As Google welcomed us back to Kansas, my daughter and I expressed shock at how fast the trip was passing. Even though the travel time was similar, following the gradual curve of the road seemed to propel us forward in a way the Interstate could not.

Soon after the state line, my daughter dozed. I was glad for that, as she had stayed up well past her bedtime the night before. I turned off the kid music, and delved into pondering the adventure we were driving.

For a long time, I had the tendency to play it safe. (Maybe I still do, but smiling in the face of a curveball is a good sign that I am recovering.) But my fear of the unknown never stopped the curveballs from coming.

Here’s an example: when I was deciding on a college, I was confident I would attend Bethany College in Linds­borg. I grew up in Mar­quette, and was generally a homebody (I cried in the shower every time I went to a summer camp), so going to a college close to my home didn’t bother me.

All my classmates had bigger plans. They couldn’t wait to leave. As it turned out, a large chunk of my classmates ended up going Bethany, while I landed at Tabor. Curve-balled.

Let me be the first to tell you, there have been many other curves thrown in my direction. Some painful, some joyful, some hard, some easy. All life-altering. Looking back, I can be glad in one way or another for all of them.

Curveballs have a way of getting me on course. God knows how much I need direction! And I’m getting more and more comfortable with them. Like a professional baseball player, curves don’t throw me out of the game anymore.

And, for me, what it all boils down to is the map.

In regard to the road trip, without a map, in good conscience, I couldn’t have forged ahead. I wouldn’t have wanted to endanger my daughter, so without verification of where we were headed, I would have stopped the van, turned around and started over. This time on a familiar, straight road.

But that wasn’t the choice I needed to make. I had a map.

I suppose I could have still fretted and worried, wondering if the map was accurate. I could have second-guessed the professionals who plotted the road and therefore our course. I could have refused to believe the map until I had proof of the Interstate in my line of sight and under my wheels.

But I didn’t. With the map, my confidence soared. I wouldn’t end up in a lake. I wouldn’t end up in a corn maze. I would end up right where I needed to be.

And in pondering, I realized how perfect this lines up with my spiritual journey.

Doubt and second-guessing were natural to me. While it seems silly to fret and worry in regard to a road map, I did it all the time with my Bible. I approached the Word without complete trust. Without complete confidence. It was a curveball several years ago that rooted out that unbelief.

Now, with my Map, my confidence soars. With each passing mile, windy or straight, I hope in where I’m headed. And even with curveballs, I know I will end up right where I need to be.

Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008.

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