When my sons were growing up, we traveled alot.
Before a long road trip, we’d go to AAA as a family and request a TripTik (not even sure if folks still use them). My boys loved to help navigate, warning me of road work, scenic offerings, and our next exit. It was a fun learning experience for all of us. GPS makes our lives easier, but kids don’t read maps much these days. It makes me sad, because I love reading maps.
We had a map to get to our destination.
I am a certified life coach. I hold additional certifications in other areas, too, including grief coaching and Christian Life Coaching. Through a lot of questioning and exploring, I help women create road maps of sorts, action plans that help them move forward in various ways. Some come to me for accountability with very specific goals. Others are thinking about retiring or making a career change or are looking at ways they can enhance their personal and spiritual growth. We create plans–maps, if you will– to get them there.
Sometimes, though, life throws them curveballs over which they have no control, and their plans must be placed on hold for a while. When this happens, I encourage them to do some little something that will move them forward, sort of like Lance Armstrong riding his stationery bike for a few seconds or minutes each day when he was sick from his cancer treatments. I also encourage them to embrace this “time out,” while keeping their eye on the prize.
We can’t control what we can’t control.
I used to sugarcoat the two traumatic events that bookended four years of my life: My husband’s near-fatal head-on collision that cost him a leg and his and his father’s deaths at sea four years later. People would and still say, “I don’t know how you did it, raising your boys alone, etc.,” and I’d usually reply with, “Oh, well, it’s been X number of years” and blah, blah, blah.
But you know what?
One doesn’t completely get over life-changing and stressful events like that. We lost nearly everything after that car accident and had to rebuild our lives. I had no body to identify after Russ’a death, and there’s a year-long legal process you must navigate to declare a missing person dead, all the while trying to deal with your and your children’s grief (and in this case, the grief of an entire family, due to the double deaths) and getting by until your loved one is deemed deceased and your death benefits kick in.
Yes, it was stressful.
It pales in comparison, though, to the past year or so of my life. Without mentioning specifics, I have had a few layers of stress that all collided at once: Family matters, relational/heart matters, and some work-related stress. Fortunately, I have much better coping tools these days, but it’s still been very stressful. I want to wave a magic wand to make it all better, but those wands only exist in fairy tales. I tried to be proactive when I could; but when others are involved, one’s proactiveness can be dismissed. Insensitive social media posts, few if any “attagirls,” and adult children who are trying to deal with their own stress can take a toll on anyone but especially someone who has trauma.
I’m happy to say I have re-created a road map, but there are still some fuzzy and undecided routes.
As I do with clients who can’t control certain circumstances, I let go of some things. I tossed a few things to the wind with a “whatever!,” although I didn’t really mean that. I just let go and let God, and I’ve spent many a morning with my palms up, saying, “Father, I am giving this person or situation to you, because I feel I’ve run into a roadblock.”
Roadblocks… ah, yes, obstacles on my map.
Friend, it’s okay to NOT know where you’re going for a while…a while, not the rest of your life. Those timeouts can give us much clarity, and we can hear God’s voice louder when we decide to either detach from people or situations or just not get as involved as we were.
Or… acknowledging things are beyond our control.
I don’t know what storms or challenges you’re facing right now, but as my dear Old Soldier (my ex- POW father) always reminded my sons and me: KEEP THE FAITH. IT’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT!
We do our best, and we give it God.
One of my favorite prayers in times like these is from Thomas Merton, that bad boy turned monk. I hope it helps you in those times when you just really have no idea where you’e heading:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
-The Merton Prayer, from “Thoughts in Solitude,” copyright 1956, 1958
It’s okay to not know where you are going. Keep the faith. Do what you can. Let Him have the reins.
It really will be okay.
Amy Walton is a life coach, registered yoga teacher, Holy Yoga ambassador, teacher, and writer living on the coast of Virginia. She’s loved and lost a few times, loves her family with every cell of her being, and can put her feet behind her head, not that that matters in the big picture of life. She’s also a map geek who could spend a rainy afternoon looking at maps. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.