Editor’s Note: Power of Moms is a website for mothers of all religious preferences. Our Spiritual Sundays section is a place where our authors can write about thoughts that are more spiritual in nature, and our goal is to gather a wide variety of perspectives. If you (or someone you know) has something to add to this section to help us reach a wider audience of mothers, please send the submission to [email protected] Thank you!
When we first moved to an old city in the eastern United States, where the streets meandered and were hard to follow, my mother-in-law gave me a GPS. (This was before it was a standard feature on all phones—how old am I?)
At first, a GPS seemed like a gift. It told me where to go. It never let me get lost. But soon, it became like a crutch that keeps your leg broken. Sure it helped me get around, but it never let me build the strength of knowing where I was going. I didn’t pay attention to landmarks because I was too focused on the screen. I didn’t know the names of streets or parts of town because I never had to remember them. In short, I was driving like a perpetual newcomer.
So I went down to my local AAA office and got a map. How 20th century, right? Did you know they still have those? I put a star where we lived so I’d know I could find my way home, and I began to drive.
Without the GPS, I got lost a lot. Then I would break out my map and figure out where I was, what I did wrong, and how to get back on the right path. In a few weeks I had seen every part of the city, and my kids had learned the phrase, “Oh (insert inappropriate word)! That’s my turn!” But more importantly, I knew my way around. I could see the big picture. I felt like a fully functioning adult again.
The problem with being a religious person is one has to use a spiritual GPS. Even though God is a lot like AAA (24-hour road assistance, only a phone call away!), He doesn’t give away free maps of the road ahead. He doesn’t give you a big picture. You get the assurance that you will be guided. You can believe your actions are part of a larger plan, but you will not get the confidence of knowing exactly where you’re going. He gives directions one turn at a time.
This is a hard concept for me. I’m a map person. I like being able to decide alternate routes. I like to know the ultimate destination so I can tell if where I’m going makes sense. Especially since I have added some tiny, precious passengers, I want to know exactly where we are going. But I also believe God is patient with me when I take detours and don’t trust His direction. I often feel like I hear some echoes of “recalculating…recalculating” when I pray. He keeps teaching me to be a perpetual newcomer and trust that He’s the adult.
Let me give you an example. A few months ago, my husband and I decided to move our family from Pennsylvania to Mexico. We wanted the kids to have an opportunity to learn a foreign language and gain a larger perspective on the world. We work remotely, so it seemed like a good idea.
It is a good idea, except that this experience feels exactly like being guided by a GPS. I have no idea what the next turn is. I have no idea if the kids will learn Spanish or learn to hate us because we have taken them away from everything they knew and loved. I’m not sure how much we should push ourselves to use our halting Spanish to engage in the community or how much we should retreat and watch movies to recharge over the weekend. I’m not sure if we should stay here for a year or five years. Heck, I’m not even sure what to make for breakfast sometimes-—everything is unfamiliar and bewildering.
Except, it’s not. The familiar whisper that God is riding shotgun helps me to trust that my spiritual GPS isn’t leading me astray.
There is a hymn I sing at my church that I find beautiful and frustrating. Here is the first verse:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
Although I want to say, “One step is not enough! I want more! I do want to see the distant scene!” I’m learning to trust more and panic less and say, “Ok, if God’s navigating, then one step in front is enough for me.”
QUESTION: When have you had to put down the maps and listen to your internal GPS? Where has it guided you?
CHALLENGE: Think about a decision you are trying to make in your life. Ask God where He would have you go. What part of your relationship with your child could use improvement? Ask God what you can do to make it better.
Edited by Elsje Denison and Katie Carter.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Julie Finlayson.