I have had many experiences driving in the rain. I remember the crazy rain that hit often as we lived in the southeast United States. The visibility was awful as we crawled on I-95, cars with blinkers on, while the torrent hit! I loved the power wash of my car when it was over, but hated the difficulty it caused on the road. Many a commute was made hours longer because of a downpour.
I remember the time we were lost somewhere in northern Arizona after a family event. The rain was awful, cars were pulling over, and we were not sure which way to go. Then, my oldest daughter, Erin, asked if she could say a prayer. Everyone in the car closed their eyes (except for me, I was still driving), little children folded their arms and hands, and she said a beautiful prayer that we would be safe and find our way. That is a precious memory I never want to forget!
Well, recently I found myself heading home from my daughter’s graduation from Montana State. We were so happy to have been able to come and celebrate with her. Now, we were heading home, hitting the road early to hopefully make some good progress on our long drive home. Of course, as soon as we hit the freeway, we found ourselves in the midst of pouring rain. Ugh! We had hoped to beat the rush hour and get out of the city, but as I pulled up behind the semi-truck, we knew that was not to be. Best laid plans…
The visibility was awful! I had my wipers on full speed, I leaned in closer to the windshield, and I turned the radio down (because somehow that improves vision and visibility!). My knuckles were white, gripping the steering wheel, and I could feel the tension already building in my shoulders and neck! Not fun!
This continued for many miles. We pushed onward trying to be as careful as possible. Conversation was limited so I could focus on the road and make sure we were safe. Then, the semi-truck seemed to slow a bit as we reached a hill. I decided this would be a good time to venture out and maybe pass him. So, I checked thrice and veered into the passing lane and gently stepped on the gas to get us moving a bit faster. As I came around the semi, I was surprised at what I found.
It was not raining any longer! The roads were covered in an inch or so of water from the earlier rainstorm, but it was not raining in front of the semi! Wait, it was not raining at all!
What had happened?
Somewhere along that long stretch of freeway, the rain had stopped. However, because of the cloud cover, the darkened early-morning skies, and the splashback behind the semi-truck in front of us, we missed it. The storm had stopped. There was no rainfall! There was no downpour! There was no danger!
Surprised and pleased, we moved on a bit faster! I think the conversation started up with usual vibrancy and we felt happy to be facing clear driving for the rest of the way. I may have even turned the radio back on!
So often, life is like us! The obstacles in front of us are of our own making! We think something is blocking our progress! We grunt, buckle down, and try to face it and white-knuckle through it! We may curse a bit, complain a lot, and figure our plans and progress are being hindered in some way. We may struggle and blunder along not knowing there is something else going on. We are really our own obstacle.
In these moments, we need to stop and go at it from a different angle. We need perspective. We are stuck in our own short-sightedness that we cannot see the clear path ahead of us. We may pat ourselves on the pack because we feel we are making forward progress, and heck, we are doing the best we can. Yet, we could benefit from taking another view, merging over into another lane to see if there is a way around.
Like me on that long stretch of road, my progress was hindered because I was stuck in only what I could see and experience at that moment. All I saw was frustrating falling rain–so much that I failed to see that the storm had cleared and there was smooth sailing to be had. I was lost in my own failure to look up, look around, and change lanes. I had chosen my own obstacles by not considering another point of view.
If you find yourself bearing down and pushing on through frustrating storms and obstacles in your way, you may just have to keep on keeping on to get through it. However, would you please make sure to consider what is in front of you and check out other viewpoints? What may seem looming and large in front of you, may only be something easy to get around. When you get lost in the storm and feel your progress is being impeded, you might be right. But, please take my advice and make sure there is not something to be done to merge out of the way and get back on track and up to speed!
We need to consider more and more what obstacles and blocks we have to make forward progress with others on this road. We need to look into our hearts, expand our vision, watch more carefully, and be willing to be flexible and adaptable. We need to challenge any tendency toward judging, criticizing, blaming, or fault-finding. We might need to look for any obstacles of discrimination or prejudice that might be blocking our forward progress. We may just need to examine the road ahead and make sure we are not creating the very stalled progress we are complaining about.
So, the next time you find yourself heading down a stretch of road, complaining about the so-called obstacles and storms impeding your progress, try to look around, change lanes, and see if there is another way of seeing things. You might be the only thing in your way! Let’s get going!