I must live on the roughest street in town. With giant potholes and multiple patches from water leaks, the road is in dire need of repair. Despite my foreknowledge of these pitfalls, I still find myself driving into one of these menaces. At these times, I shoot up an Anne Lamott prayer—“Help me, Jesus!” and hold my breath, hoping that by remaining breathless, I can keep my tires from deflating. In the absence of a thump, thump, I exhale and conveniently erase the blunder from my memory and never mention these little driving faux pas to my husband. But if there are children in the car, I’m doomed. As soon as we get home, the kids blurt out, “Guess what mommy did today?” Somehow, they don’t seem to report my husband’s sins like they do mine.
My driving errors are not just confined to hitting potholes. Sometimes when making a smooth, rounded turn, I underestimate how wide I am, er…I mean how wide the car is, and it gently grazes the curb. (This happens in other areas, but I am not confessing to those right now.) One time, in an attempt to make a right turn, the tire really scuffed the curb. (I might be understating this ever so slightly.) I held my breath, but to no avail—thump, thump, thump. Finally, I admitted defeat, slunk to the side of the road and inspected for damage. To my dismay, I found a gash in the sidewall of the right rear tire. With no way out, I surrendered, called my husband and confessed my sin. Without any words of condemnation, he graciously came and bailed me out.
Another of my automotive slip-ups has to do with parking. One day, I stopped at the bank, parked, got out of the car and went in. When I came back out, my car was gone. As I stood there dazed and confused wondering if I should call the police to report my stolen vehicle, I looked up and realized that my car was across the street. Apparently, someone had forgotten to put the car in park so the car rolled out of the space, out of the parking lot, crossed the street and landed in an embankment, completely missing the light pole and all the parked cars. After a moment of shock and embarrassment, I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I walked nonchalantly through the parking lot, down the driveway, and across the street to my car. I got in and drove off as though this was completely normal. I can’t remember if I mentioned this little incident to my husband or not. Since this was before children, there was no one to tattle on me. (There might still be a chance that he doesn’t know, so lets keep this between us.)
Forest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Well, life is also like a rugged road with more flat tires, patches and potholes than you expect. After I graduated from college, I anticipated that my road would be smooth. I attempted to follow the plan proscribed by my family and school system that said, “Go forth and accomplish!” But it didn’t work out that way. I didn’t get into the grad school of my choice. Pothole. I didn’t get the job I applied for. Another pothole. I found myself the target of several false accusations. Giant potholes. I soon found myself stuck in a deep rut of rejection, wondering how I got there and why this kept happening to me. I assumed there must be something wrong with me and felt deeply flawed.
As time went on, I became annoyed with God because He wasn’t following my guidelines. Wasn’t He supposed to make my life work? Why so many flat tires and potholes? Slowly, as I got to know God, I realized that He was after something more than my earthly success. I began to wonder if God had something to do with these events that I experienced as rejection. What if He was closing doors in order to protect me, or because He had a better plan? By shutting these doors, He wasn’t out to hurt me and perhaps He was even fathering me. Instead of seeing these events as rejection, could I see them as protection from a God who was for me?
Eventually, I learned that what I had believed about these events were lies. They came from the enemy, who put his spin on every painful encounter of my life. God shut a door—I felt rejected. A false accusation—I was defective. Being unaware of his schemes, I kept believing the enemy’s lie and falling into his trap.
It has been said that we aren’t in bondage to the traumas of our past; we are in bondage to the lies we believe about our past. Once I realized the enemy’s tactics, I had a choice: I could continue to believe the lies or I could reject them. I could see the potholes for what they were, remind myself of God’s truth and make a choice to walk around them. I didn’t have to keep falling into them.
Armed with this new reality, I realized I had a lot to be grateful for. Instead of looking at what I didn’t get, I began to see what I had received—freedom that I didn’t know I needed, rich experiences beyond what I could imagine, and extraordinary relationships that I have come to treasure. Father did truly know best.
I am not the only one to figure this out. Just the other day, I noticed this quote posted on Facebook:
Thank you God for not allowing me to settle for second best. God, every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, you were redirecting me to something better. (Emphasis added)
Now instead of succumbing to the lies of the potholes, I can veer around them and say, “Thank you, God, for closing those doors and leading me to something better.”
GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. Geneva has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master in Business Administration. In her spare time, Geneva loves reading, eating bacon and attending live theater. She lives in Southern California with her husband and blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.