I was nervous.
“It’s just driving into work like any other Friday.”
“You’ve driven with her in the car hundreds of times.”
“It’s just a little fog.”
But the combination of the three coupled with the fact that I was a month out from having been in two car accidents in two years which totaled both vehicles was making me shake in my boots.
Sure, I’d done all those things before but this was different. Fog the heaviest I’d seen or driven in maybe ever, having my 21 month old with me, driving the car I’d finally become familiar with after mine had been totaled one month prior and having no option as she was starting speech therapy that morning. Not the ideal way to start of your Friday.
We bundled up, turned on some good tunes and said a prayer. As I started toward Lexington the fog was bad getting out of our little town and driving through horse country it worsened. The pit in my stomach deepened as I drove about 50 mph and saw all the taillights in front of me disappear as fast as they came around me into the grey, thick nothing of this dense fog.
This has been my life. Moving along, cautious, nervous, surrounded by a dense, thick fog of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The unknown of what is ahead is impacted even more when the taillights ahead of me speed up and then disappear as fast as they appeared.
But just as I successfully drove to TN a week after my accident in November, I made it into Lexington unscathed–minus the clenched fists and sweat. And I was reminded every so sweetly that those taillights in front of me were my beacon.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard in this past season about the importance of staying in your lane. Doing the thing that makes you come alive. Not looking to the left or the right at what everyone else is doing, but keeping your eyes fixed strongly ahead at your destination. And your destination–while you might know it theoretically–may be the 10 feet ahead that you can see at that moment.
You see, I knew I was headed to work and my Waze app was up and running to give me an ETA and traffic updates. I could probably drive there with one eye closed doing it 5 days a week for the past (almost) 5 years. And while this destination was so familiar, there were distractions on this day that kept my eye on the immediate road ahead. And my saving grace? Those taillights.
Just as I knew where I was going, I needed the reassurance of that other person that was headed in the same general direction but was just a few steps ahead. There were a few moments when we stayed together for a few miles (ahhh–so nice!) and other moments when they would speed past me driving faster than what I was comfortable driving. Regardless, they were a reassuring light to my anxious heart that morning. I wasn’t upset with them that they were moving faster–I was just grateful they were there. And other times, I came upon someone who was ahead of me but at a different point in their journey and I would be the one to pass them moving a tad bit faster.
I’ve been stewing on this situation for the past few weeks especially as we’ve moved into the holiday season where the hustle and bustle seems inevitable. My futuristic heart moves a few beats ahead and I’m already thinking about the new year and the clean slate that so many of us will start to ponder in the coming weeks. And I just keep going back to what I learned on Paris Pike that morning.
Stay in your lane.
Let those in front of you guide you.
Be a guide for those who may be coming up behind.
I took that message to heart when I thought about how to approach my first holiday season with a little one who is more aware of what’s going on and a looooooong mental list of experiences that we wanted to engage in. Santa. Lights. The Nutcracker. Christmas with friends. Cantatas. The list becomes very long, very quickly. My goal was to be done with the shopping and decorating by December 1st so we could enjoy all the fun gatherings and events that December brings. Stay in your lane, Faith. Don’t worry about the events you can’t attend, the limited decorations up in your house this year or the fact that illness meant your photos and cards are going out later than you wished. Keep it simple and stay in your lane.
I took that message to heart when I decided to scale back my holiday push in my Beautycounter business and focus on self-care. Some might say I’m crazy, but I’m way more interested in women making daily decisions to care for their mind, heart and soul in this season than I am them purchasing a lip gloss from Beautycounter. Don’t worry about sales or numbers and stay in your lane, Faith.
I took that message to heart when I kept feeling the tug to start a group for Working Mamas next year through church. I’ve been very protective of my time and investments the past few years, but I’m deeply missing being consistently connected to women who are in a similar stage of life and I’m grateful for technology now that allows us to connect in more intentional ways without leaving our homes. Be obedient and stay in your lane, Faith.
I’m encouraged by seeing others stay in their lane. Saying no to a big prestigious acceptance to a doctoral program when they know it’s not what they’re supposed to do. Saying thanks but no thanks to finishing the Ph.D. after being so close but knowing that it’s going to cause more strain on them and their family. Not taking the promotion that would mean a cross-country move. Or taking the promotion and knowing that it’s going to be hard on extended family but you know it’s right. Saying no to the job opportunity that on paper looks ideal, but would cause more stress with lessened benefits and child-care challenges.
So whatever the next few weeks bring you with holiday celebrations, changing out the 2017 calendar for a new, fresh year, know you’re not alone if you feel like you’re in a thick dense fog. Deep breaths. Look for the taillights. And know that even in the darkness, you are being a light for someone else coming up behind you. And you may never even know it.