I Have Not Arrived {Yet}

Until earlier this year, I still used Mapquest for driving directions. I would open my laptop, go to that website, and type in the address for wherever I needed to go–the pediatric orthopedist to take care of Garfield’s broken arm last fall, for example. I would then write down on some scrap paper all the roads and turns I would need to take to get to the destination. I’m not particularly proficient with directions, anyway, and Mapquest gave me lots of assistance.

Then I got a new-to-me phone (yep, it’s second-hand), and it has a GPS. I can use Google maps now–instead of Mapquest–to get me where I need to go. All the young folk are doing it these days, I hear. I did feel old, using my pen and paper to hand write directions. But no longer! I can even speak into my phone–just open my mouth and talk!–and directions will pop up on the screen and a voice politely instructs me, “Turn left in 800 feet.” So easy. 

I used that feature on my cell phone on Sunday. First I dropped off my husband and boys at the community rec center so they could swim at the pool. Then I headed to a craft store by myself. On the way, our plans had changed slightly, and I could now shop at the craft store closer to home instead of the one across town. In trying to change this on my phone, I didn’t get the directions switched to the appropriate store. But I unthinkingly, obediently followed the instructions on my phone–this thing does the thinking FOR me, after all. I got on one highway and thought, “Why am I going HERE?” I hate driving on that road, by the way. When I finally realized I was headed to the wrong store, I had driven halfway there.

pin cushion jar for blog

I turned around and started heading back to the store where I wanted to be. But in the process, I pitched a bit of a fit. In the South, we might say I “showed my tail.” I was alone in the van, after all, so nobody was there to hear. But I wasn’t mad just because I drove more miles than I needed to go or that I wasted a little time or a little gas. I felt exasperated and frustrated because I had done everything I knew to do to make this work–I had entered the location on my phone where I wanted to be; I had followed the Google map instructions. I had played by the GPS rules, and still I had ended up someplace I didn’t want or need to be.

I felt I was looking my deficiencies full in the face and realizing I would never, ever be able to overcome them. And I got angry about that, kind of visibly and very vocally angry (which I would NOT have done had anybody been with me in the vehicle). But as I’m fuming and ranting, thinking about how stupid I must be to make a mistake with an app on my phone that does all the work for me, I also consider how I wouldn’t want anybody to see me so upset. And so foolishly flawed. Not only would that have been too much vulnerability, I would have been afraid of losing the respect of people who respect me, of those whom I respect, too.

I know we all have those moments when we lose it. Sometimes I think I have my “lose it” moments over challenges that most people could handle in their sleep–well, not literally. I don’t know anybody who drives while sleeping. But still.

I hate those moments when I feel so inadequate. But in this case, I am; my own innate abilities to navigate aren’t sufficient. That’s why I listen to that voice on my phone telling me to turn right in a quarter of a mile.

At the end of the set of instructions, when I finally pull into a parking spot at wherever I needed to go, the silky-smooth GPS phone voice enunciates, “You have arrived.”


That’s not true, though. I may arrive at the craft store, or get to the doctor’s appointment for Garfield’s X-ray, but I will never personally “arrive,” at least not in this lifetime. Because I am in process–always.

As the old hymn declares, “He’s still working on me.” I need God’s Spirit to work on me, to work IN me, to make me more content with being in process. With being so very far from having arrived.

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”–John Newton


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