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.
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.