Difficulties. Setbacks. Brokenness. Destruction. The imperfect paths of our lives are often littered with potholes and debris.
Some potholes are barely noticeable, some debris is merely dried leaves that crumble when stepped on. Other potholes cause us to bounce in back jarring ways bringing blowouts & breakdowns, and debris so large & overreaching its removal requires great effort, expense, and energy to clear.
The potholes and debris in our paths can be so discouraging, so frustrating, so painful. How do we find joy in the middle of our rough roads?
Didn’t See That Coming
A large part of the frustration with potholes and debris in our paths is that we don’t get advanced notice. We don’t see it coming.
There are no personal emails that say “coming soon, financial difficulty when you get laid off on this specific date” There are no postcards in the mailbox telling us when a cough will lead to a diagnosis for a condition that has no cure. There are no text messages that reveal when an important personal relationship will unravel with no hope of repair.
These things create unexpected obstacles in the middle of our journeys, obstacles that can stall us with remorse, regret, and frustration.
The day of my daughter’s 13th birthday party we she and I were picking up her friends in my minivan. On our way to the last guests house there was a bit of debris on my side of the road. It looked small and inconsequential, but I decided I had better go around it.
I thought I had moved over enough to miss it, but the immediate ding of the tire pressure light confirmed what I instantly felt in the steering wheel. Fortunately I was able to safely stop on the side of the road before the back passenger side tire had gone completely flat.
Unforeseen debris in my path. On the day of my daughter’s 13th birthday party. While picking up guests. In December. In Minnesota. My mechanic husband at home (understandably not wanting to be a part of a girl filled carpool).
I wish I could say, I was that super mom who handled the whole situation with grace and delight. The Mom that totally put the spare on myself in the cold and continued on without flinching.
But, instead I struggled to get the tools out. Which lead to me throwing a pot hole in my husbands plans to come help. A quick message to the last guest & her mom to let them know we were running late.
I tried to reassure my daughter and friends that this was just a mild inconvenience and they’d be having fun before they know it, which was met by eye rolls, sighs, and rapid fire messages to friends to share what was going on. #MomMessesUp13thBday
I wanted to make sweet memories for my daughter as she officially became a teenager. While I certainly made things memorable, I really was hoping the memories would be from blowing out candle wishes that came true, rather than the roadside delay from a tire blowout.
It’s moments like these that cause us to choose how we are going to proceed. Will we react in a way that will ruin the day or will we rise to overcome the unforeseen that we just ran over?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Joy in the trials. Joy in the potholes. Joy when dealing with debris. Joy during birthday blowouts.
In the moment this seems impossible, at least in our own strength. But with Jesus, persevering through the potholes and debris becomes possible. With Jesus there is joy for the journey no matter what the path holds.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27 (NIV)
Peace through the potholes. Peace through the debris. Peace through the troubles. Peace that overcomes fears.
Live it Out
Potholes and debris threaten to steal our peace and detain us from experiencing rich joy. What are the breakdowns, difficulties or setbacks that you are currently facing? What is it in your path that threatens your peace and deters you from joy?
Whatever it is that is in front of you, know that you are not alone. Some days it may feel like others careen forward on fresh paved highways clear of all obstacles. Small glimpses can tempt us to compare our paths. But there are no perfect roads, all paths have problems at some point.
Hold to the promises that Jesus gives us. Do not be afraid. Do not let your heart be troubled. You have been given the peace of heaven, abundant peace from an eternal Lord who loves you so much.
The Lord helps us navigate the potholes, dig out from the debris, and sits with us when we are stalled on the side of the road. We may not see our circumstances in advance, but Jesus never expects us to see the future and plan for all potholes. Jesus asks us to trust him; to put our futures, our paths, even our potholes in his hands.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me.”
John 14:1 (NIV)
Pray Through It
There are so many times I have said, “I wish I would have known” and “I didn’t see that coming.” Those times of frustration, regret, and remorse. Those times feel overwhelming; more like inescapable pits rather than potholes, and mountains to move rather than debris on the path.
To persevere through these parts of our paths seems to take all we have, to experience joy along these segments of our journey feels impossible. We need more than we have in time, talent, treasure, energy, and effort.
May we turn to You, Jesus, in trust. Trust that You give in a way that is divine, not earthly, to meet our needs. You provide a peace that passes all understand and joy for all the steps of our journey.
In the name of Jesus who has walked the road of potholes and debris before us, with us, and behind us, amen.