Have you ever been stuck? I’m talking about being physically good and stuck. I have and it’s an experience I don’t think I will be forgetting anytime soon.
In January of this year, Atlanta, GA experienced a huge ice freeze up that halted all traffic and movement on small and big roads. While it goes without saying we were definitely not prepared for the ice-tastrophe, it’s the individual stories of panic, bumper to bumper standstill, and strangers helping strangers that grabbed many people’s attention.
I left work around 2:00pm after being released. I could see the cars piling up outside. I figured I’d rather be inching home an extra hour or two than stay at work, so I headed out.
The first two hours I listened to music and caught up on podcasts. Well, by hour five, I was only 1 mile down the road. Anxiety began to take over.
The biggest obstacle was not being able to see ahead of me.
I would slowly creep up an inch at a time thinking I was getting somewhere only to see that I was now behind a car with it’s four way flashers on. The constant obstacle course was aggravating.
I was thankful to not have a child or anyone else depending on me while I was stuck. But I also began to feel sorry for myself for not having anyone fighting through the crowds to get to me. I know, it’s always something, isn’t it?
At 7:00pm I knew something was terribly wrong. It was beginning to get dark and cars tires and semi trucks were skidding all around me.
The darkness. The immobility. It was suffocating.
By 8:00pm I made it to the top of a hill and all I could see was darkness. There must have been an accident that was finally cleared up. Black ice had now covered the road that was traffic-less for so long.
Strangers were coaching drivers to “Go up the hill but don’t break!” I told one man that I was giving up. “No!” he pleaded, “You’re so close!”
“Yes,” I said, “but I have 7 more miles to go and who knows what’s beyond that hill.”
My game plan to get home had turned from comfort to reality. A friend that lived a short ways down the road opened her home to me and I was very grateful. I just had to get over one more bridge and then I could park my car on the side of the road and walk.
After making it over a slippery bridge I knew my time was done. Once I inched past the guardrails around 11:00pm, I parked it.
Over those 9 hours, and 2 miles traveled, I had many emotions. Hope to get out of work and home safely, concern with traffic being so slow, annoyance at drivers weaving in and out, panic that I was never going to get out of my car, fear of being hit or sliding into someone, anxiety about what I should do with my car and myself, and resolution to take the next plausible step towards safety.
My concern and scope went from miles wide to inch by inch as the time progressed.
The experience I went through over those 9 hours was unique, but the emotions I felt weren’t unique to me at all.
Hope. Concern. Annoyance. Panic. Fear. Anxiety. Resolution.
In Matthew 6:25-34, we are encouraged and instructed by Jesus to not worry. He is speaking to His disciples reminding them, and us, how God takes care of the birds and flowers and how much more he will take care of His children. He states,
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34)
That icy Tuesday had enough trouble of its own.
I wouldn’t want myself to have known on Monday what Tuesday held. I find that verse so comforting and yet one of the hardest things for me to wrap my mind around and to remember.
So, are you in a “stuck” moment? You don’t know what the next step is but you feel an anxious “pause” looming over you. Maybe you lost your job or got cut back, you’re thinking about the direction you want to take a relationship, or you could be contemplating a big move.
When we are in a moment that is out of our control, it’s hard to not look ahead and try to “plan” it all out.
What I’ve found is that God only gives us what will get us through that day because if he told us the entire story we would be overcome.
Sitting in my car with no where to go, no control over if someone hit me, or wondering what could be just over that dark icy hill, I just began praising God. When my car was skidding over the icy bridge it was by God’s grace that I didn’t hit anyone.
I had no control.
I found myself reciting praises as I tightly gripped the steering wheel: “Praise you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord. Just one more inch.”
And He got me through.
I wouldn’t say that my words made anything happen. I don’t give myself that much credit. What I would say is that turning my worry into praise shifted my insides. I was taking it one second at a time.
Literally, one inch at a time.
If you are “stuck” right now in life, please continue to pray for the next step. You may want the next year’s game plan, but let God lead you one day at a time for a while.
He will send you answers and opportunities. I believe that.
Open up your eyes and ears to hear what He wants you to do. It may seem crazy and it may make you sweat…but trust Him. And if you start sliding on thin ice, praise Him anyway.
Mandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.