As some of you know, I live in the not so happy land of directional confusion (except when it comes to being on the interstate where my internal compass always seems to point to the mountains where I was raised!). These days, given landmarks like tall buildings or the names of main streets, I can usually figure out whether to turn left or right. It just might involve a few wrong turns in the process.
I didn’t drive in my hometown as a young adult. But even if I had, there was one main road in and out of town. We had one elementary school, one post office, one bank, one volunteer rescue squad, one volunteer fire department, one grocery store, etc. Directions like turn left at the red barn or make a right by the bank, made perfect sense to me.
Imagine my confusion and frustration the first time I moved far away from home and there was more than one chain convenience store with the same name. How would I know which one to look for if I needed to make a turn off of the main road?
And oh, those instructions that some well-meaning folks like to pass along like, “turn south at the far west end of the northeast side of the building”. What? (Yes, my husband told me this scenario is not possible but that’s my point exactly!) Upon receipt of these type of directions, I promptly turn to my husband and ask, “Okay, so where do I turn and which way?”
Directions in plain English, please! Some have said that landmark directions are considered “woman” directions. That can’t be true since all of my children, including my daughter, have internal compasses.
Just give me a tiny hint. What color is the trim on the house on the corner of the street? What store is just before that intersection? Which side of the street is it on? Do I turn right or left? Will I have to make a right or left exit off of the interstate? You see, there must be plenty of time to change lanes! How much longer is the drive if I don’t use the interstate? In case you are wondering, yes, I’m absolutely sure there is a back road that I can use to get there. People, somehow, miraculously managed to get from place to place before those complicated highway systems were constructed.
Once, after driving forty-five minutes the long way (interpretation-avoiding the interstate) to a pool playdate in an unfamiliar area, I headed back home with three happy but tired children. One of our sons fell asleep; the official “help Mom not get lost” one. I thought I’d just keep going. Surely I would recognize the next turn while he rested.
Now, I must confess, whenever I get the opportunity to drive in the wide open spaces, my small town roots kick in. For some reason, I think I am headed home with a long peaceful drive ahead of me. I settle in to enjoy the landscape, cows, and fluffy white clouds without all the people, office buildings, stores, concrete, and traffic.
On this particular occasion, I suddenly realized that I had missed my turn. I kept on driving, somehow hoping to see a street name that I recognized. One problem when you’re lost in the country … very few street signs. The road narrowed into one lane, room enough for barely one vehicle, and then turned from blacktop to gravel. I turned the van around the first chance I could, in front of a dilapidated mobile home with tires on the roof and several barking dogs chasing our van. The “navigator” woke up trying to figure out what all the commotion was. The youngest exclaimed, “Mommy, I’m scared! I don’t want to live here!” Quite determined to retrace my steps, I spent over an hour driving back and forth; alternating between prayer and rising panic.
Tearfully, I called my husband who was waiting to be picked up from work. After years of receiving these kinds of calls, he very patiently and calmly asked a few questions … ending with “which side of the van is the sun on?” Whew! My next turn would have been in the wrong direction. Two hours later than planned, we made it back to his office in the city.
This is only one of many such mis-directional adventures over the years. I assure you; the humor in these situations does not come until the shedding of tears and time to process. Thank God for His mercy, an understanding husband and friends, directionally gifted children, and smart phones with GPS! And yes, even with those blessings, I have still managed to get lost…especially when the destination changes while en route; making my carefully prepared directions obsolete.
So, the next time someone asks for directions or appears to be lost, please have mercy, be patient, and show compassion. That desperate and glazed look in their eyes might just reveal a member of the Directionally Dysfunctional Club!
For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13
And oh, LORD, I sure need it!!!