Directionally Challenged

“My name is Janis and I am Directionally Challenged.”

My daughter peaked my fascination one morning. She attached a picture to a text message, saying “This was my run today”. The picture was basically a scribbled-looking red line going around in a square sort of shape with various appendages and juts and jogs here and there. It wasn’t until I was talking to her a bit later that my fascination really blossomed.

She started telling me about the various croppings which made her run look so chaotic.

“Right over here was where we went down a side road because we thought a friend was building her house there but we were wrong.”

“The little curly q over here was when I realized I’d lost my ear phones for my mp3 player and I had to go back and forth a couple of times until I found them.”

My daughter continued explaining where on her route was harder because it was uphill and which places she would walk. The more she talked, the more I knew I liked this mapping concept. I liked the idea of her being able to have this concrete visual of her travels – even be able to share it. I liked the idea of how she could look at it and describe so many various parts of the adventure. Parts that just looked like a line or a double line or a simple loop. There was a story behind each simple looking part of the graphic.

Because of my fascination with this concept, I downloaded the app on my phone as well. Mine, of course, was for mapping my “walks” – not “runs” like my young, in-shape daughter. I turned it on various times while at my job and found it 1interesting how something could look simple but when I zoomed in, it looked absolutely crazy and chaotic.

I found myself wishing I could have one of these for my whole entire day. Then I could look at it as I knelt down to talk to my Father in Heaven. I could explain about all the missteps and tell Him why I wavered off the main path. I could ask forgiveness for all the wrong turns and express gratitude for all the times He helped me get back up. I could also share my frustrations at the difficulty I always seem to have in staying on the main path and keeping my feet firmly planted, pointing forward at all times.

I drew many more parallels as I continued to ponder these simple line drawings of my wanderings.

4Somehow I needed to learn from them and remember not to make the same wrong turns and missteps. The tricky part is, though, my path will not be the same tomorrow or the next day or the next day. I can’t beat it into my brain to not turn left at that one corner because tomorrow the path may continue straight.

As I stated at the beginning, I AM a directionally challenged individual.

In real life and spiritually.

This shortcoming has probably become one of the most emotional trials of my life. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where you are or how to get home or which way is “back”. It’s just not in my biological makeup. 

Everyone ditched me while camping one day so I decided to go on a “short” hike. I’d be back before anyone returned, I told myself. However, even with that timetable in mind, I still left a note stating, “I left at 10:45am and turned right at the road”. Beyond that, the plan was to just stay on the road. Oh a whim, I started the app on my phone to map my walk.

                                               The map of my quick little hike up the road – two and a half hours later

There was another camp spot on the other side of the road and I decided I needed to walk around it and check it out. Maybe it would be good for another trip. And all I’d have to do is turn completely around and come back down to the road. Simple.

There was this Mama Grouse with a grundle of babies. First I just heard Mama and then I saw her. Then I saw all the babies scattering across the dirt. She kept squawking and puffing up her tail feathers. The babies kept scattering. I just followed her. Of course, my following her made her squawk more, which made her babies scatter more. Finally I realized she didn’t know anything about the intruder (Me) and yet she was willing to set herself up as a decoy, sacrificing her life maybe, in order to draw me away from her precious little babies. That’s why she was telling them to scatter.

That was foreign to me for a moment. I would have been calling my babies to me; clutching them tightly. I would not allow them to be hurt because I would be protecting them. Mama Grouse had a different strategy.

I talked to Mama Grouse for a while as I followed her. I tried to tell her I understood how it was to be a Mama and love those babies so much that you would lay down your own life for them. Mama just squawked and continued to lead me away from her scattered babies.

When I looked up, I was disoriented.

Okay. I was lost.

So many wrong turns thinking I was right. So many short right turns, doubting myself and thinking I was wrong so I’d turn a different direction. I even tried to follow my map app and still was heading in totally the wrong direction.

There was no road. No campsite. No trailer. No familiarity any direction I looked.

That’s when I dropped to my knees. And cried. And cried.

Sometimes answers to prayers are not received while you are kneeling. Sometimes you have to start moving and then your feet will be guided. And that’s what I did, with no strong feeling one way or the other.

Still lots of wrong turns, harder than necessary paths, frustrating moments and eyes lifted heavenward.

Eventually I caught a glimpse of a random landmark and from there I found the road and from there I found my way back to camp. With five minutes to spare before others arrived back from their “planned” adventures.

I think I will be talking to my Heavenly Father a little differently tonight as I share my paths of the day with Him. Maybe when I’m finished with that conversation, I’ll understand the purposes of the entire episode more clearly as well.

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