Last night I drove to Fond du Lac to drop my daughter off to spend the rest of her spring break with a friend.
It was still a little light out when I got on the road to head home. I’d traveled this way many times before (including on the way there with my daughter), so I didn’t bother to look at a map or even think about my trip home.
I ended up taking the scenic route—and not on purpose.
I drove along my merry way, lost in my own thoughts and paying minimal attention to traffic. Up ahead I saw a sign for an exit for the town I needed to drive through. As I took the exit, I remembered that—oops—it was the next exit I was supposed to take. Oh well, I thought. It’s a small town. I can drive through it to get to the gas station where I need to turn. From there on, it will be smooth sailing.
But then I took a wrong turn. And got into a wrong lane. And missed a street I was supposed to be on.
I headed the wrong direction out of town, discovered that the next town over was much bigger than I’d realized and that an event was finishing up at the high school right as I was driving past, and learned that the state highway I planned to take was further to the west than I thought. And, and, and . . . One thing after another seemed to get in the way.
At no point did I stop and ask for directions—or even check one of the map apps on my phone. Every time I wondered if I should pull over and get my bearings, I had a reason not to. Traffic was too heavy. I was convinced I knew where I was going. I don’t like parallel parking. Oh, yeah, and I’m stubborn and hate to admit that I’m wrong.
So I kept driving along, eventually heading south (which I confirmed only because there was a beautiful sunset on my right).
Suddenly, the sun was down and it was dark. I decided that I wanted to just get home and be with my husband. I was done being stubborn and finding excuses. I was ready to pull over, check my map, and call Big Guy to tell him I’d gotten lost.
It was like a scene from a scary fairy tale. As soon as I decided to admit I’d taken all those wrong turns, I looked ahead of me and realized that I was in the middle of the woods. Dark woods. No other traffic. No place to pull off on the side of the road. Creatures. (Okay, it was just one raccoon, but still.) Not even any houses. I was on a dark road winding through dark, dark woods, and I was all alone.
The slow wind turned into faster curves. Many times, yellow warning signs cautioned me to slow down for a sharp turn. At one curve, I saw seven yellow warning signs—four arrows to show me where the curve was, two that cautioned me to reduce my speed, and one to let me know that there was a snowmobile crossing.
I heeded the warnings, slowed down, and navigated the curves with great caution the rest of my way through the woods.
All of a sudden, I was out of the woods—and I knew exactly where I was.
It was a journey quite like the journey in my marriage.
Convinced for a long time that I knew what I was doing, I barreled along without paying attention to the signs that pointed me in the right direction.
At one decision point after another, I encountered things I wasn’t prepared for. I took lots of wrong turns. Life got in the way of all my expectations.
I refused to stop and ask for help. I refused to even pause and reflect for myself on what was happening in our marriage. I refused to admit I might be wrong.
And then I had to admit I was lost. There was a dark time in our marriage. We faced so many challenges from outside our marriage, and inside our marriage we didn’t know where we were or what was ahead of us. It seemed that so much was pressing on our marriage at that time, and life send us on a lot of unexpected curves.
I didn’t like feeling alone. I was scared. I just wanted to be safe and sound with my Big Guy. I started paying attention to signs. I took things slowly and cautiously.
I heeded the warnings, slowed down, and navigated the curves with great caution the rest of my way.
And all of a sudden, I was out of the woods.
Sometimes I think about all the time I wasted by insisting on doing marriage my way and refusing to get any help for so long. Getting lost last night reminded me that although it took me longer than it needed to, what is important is that I did get to where I am supposed to be—home together with Big Guy.
Last night I found my way home to my Big Guy, an hour and a half into what should’ve been a one-hour drive. “How are you?” he asked.
“I once was lost and now am found.” In so very many ways, I thought.
Have you felt lost in your marriage? How can you find your way home?
Image credit ranbud|morgueFile.com