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The LONG Way Home (Following Directions)

Missed Exits

Since I started my blog, I have intentionally tried not to make my posts too spiritual.  Most of the time, I’ve just wanted to be encouraging to anyone in the season of singlehood like me and remind her that she’s not alone and also maybe offer some ideas for some super great “me-dates.” But there are some times when you have to put all that political etiquette to the side and simply call a spade a spade, be totally transparent and realize that a Power greater than you is trying to get your attention by any means necessary. THIS is what happened during my trip to Atlanta. I went to visit my best friend before she headed overseas to teach for 2 years. While there we had a ball, eating foods that had no nutritional value whatsoever, staying up til who knows when, having girl talk about life and dreams and men and cooking and babies and love and reality tv, and photo-bombing random strangers just because we felt like it! The trip in itself was awesome and gave me two days to feel like we were still in undergrad and like life was not kicking my heiny on a regular basis these days. We said our difficult goodbyes and my best friend put me on the road home…..or so we thought…..

Now, back to this road trip home. While on the road from the Peach State, I was on the phone with one of these candidates, knowing that he wasn’t “the one” and knowing that I had no business even calling him. We were over an hour into a conversation that wasn’t even really going anywhere when I realized that I had not passed Six Flags.

        “Something’s wrong,” I told him. I’ve been on the road for over an hour and nothing looks familiar.” 

        “What do you see?” he asked. I could hear him worrying but trying to stay calm.

       “The next sign says, ‘Greenville,’” I replied.

        “Alexis, HOW IN THE WORLD ARE YOU IN SOUTH CAROLINA?” He screamed! And by now I am in panic mode. Here’s why, folks. At this point, my daughter is calling my phone repeatedly because things are getting heated between her baby-sitter and her sitter’s boyfriend and she feels unsafe; my cell phone is about to die and my car charger won’t work and I’m low on gas because I only budgeted enough to get me from Alabama to Georgia and back. Not Georgia to South Carolina to Georgia to Alabama. To make matters worse, I’d promised her I would be there before night fall and according to all sources, it would now be 11 pm before I could see her face. I’m scared, she’s scared, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m distraught, and I’m lost. (Key word there is LOST---you’ll get it in a minute…)

So….what should have taken me 3 hours is now taking me 5 ½ hours…..Does that not sound like a certain Biblical story we all know so well? Should it not have taken the Israelites mere days to get to their Promised Land, instead of 40 years? During that silent ride home, that long drive with no way to reach out to anyone BUT God, I had a lot of time to talk to the Lord, wail out and listen and He brought me to remembrance of the Israelites. I was humbled as he chastened me with the knowledge that, had I simply not been distracted (honey-mooning on the phone, having going-nowhere conversations with this no-good-intentions fella), had I just been focused, I would not have been deterred in my journey.

And that’s when the light bulb REALLY went off. How often had I let things (men, heartbreak, alcohol, my insecurities, work, but mostly MEN) distract me, make me lose my focus, and pull me COMPLETELY off track from where I knew my life was supposed to go??? Had I not been distracted so many times, allowed myself to yoke with people I knew I shouldn’t have so many times in the past, who knows how much closer I would be right now.

If I can be totally transparent and look at just this incident alone, just this particular gentleman, the actual “missed exit” on that road trip was metaphorical for this courtship as well. It had been over a month since the Lord told me this guy was not my future husband. Even our friendship was not bearing fruit. Had I listened I could have saved myself so much: tangible things like that gas money, those extra miles on my car, the extra wear and tear on my tires. But what about the intangible things like:  more hours of sleep, the emotional scars I took from the verbally abusive courtship, the chance to keep my promise to my child or pull her sooner out of what she felt was an unsafe environment.

See folks, I missed my “sign” on that road trip, missed the markers that told me, “This way to Birmingham,” just like at times we get distracted and miss the “signs” on our life’s journey. That small voice we hear in the back of our heads saying, don’t take that job, don’t date that guy, don’t go to that function or venue, turn the tv off and spend some time with God.

I am not writing this to get all preachy but instead to point out an area where I’m working to transform and renew:  FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS (literally AND figuratively lol) and STAYING FOCUSED. Now that I know better, I’m starting to do better, intentionally growing while I’m going.

 What are you going to do about the “missed exits” in your life? You could keep going in the direction you’re headed and tell yourself it’s too late to turn around, to start all over, to try again. You could tell yourself that it’s too late to back track and be more attentive to the course you’re on. Or you could pick up right here, turn around, take the lessons you’ve learned and get back on track to wherever your destination is: home ownership, finishing school, removing yourself from some relationships you stayed in too long just because it’s comfortable, starting your dream business, becoming a parent, becoming a spouse, quitting a dangerous addiction. It’s NEVER too late to turn around and try again. Missed exits don’t mean you’ll never reach your dream or destination; missed exits simply give you an opportunity to take life’s scenic route to gain more perspective how to be better along the way!

Peace and blessings!

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