The past few weeks have been hectic. Still I promised my husband we could spend some time at the coast on a recent weekend. The scenic rocky southern shoreline of Maine is just over an hour away from home despite feeling worlds away. I welcomed the site of the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean – therapy for my soul. As I soaked in the view, I had no idea of the scare waiting for me that day.

We lingered sitting on the rocks overlooking a picturesque lighthouse and we took our time in several quaint little shops before deciding it was time to head for home. My husband was feeling a bit tired after our adventures so I volunteered to drive the rental car we had given his was in the shop for repairs.

After soaking in the ocean view one last time, we headed towards home. The GPS guided us safely back to the highway where I merged into the heavy flow of traffic. Once on the highway I glanced down at the speedometer to check my speed.

“105” I shrieked.

The number generated instant panic. 105! A car sailed past me to the left. What? How? It didn’t make sense. It didn’t feel like we were going that fast. Still the giant 105 stared at me from the dashboard. “Somethings wrong I said,” just before I noticed something…

There were three tiny letters beneath the alarming numbers “kmh.”

Kilometers per hour?!? But then my mind raced –  how fast am I going?

I can’t drive like this!” I shouted to my husband. “How do we fix it?”

“Get the manual out of the glove box.” I suggested, hoping he’d find a setting to adjust.

“We’ll figure it out,” he reassured in a calm voice. “Just keep up with traffic while we figure it out.”

Despite knowing that we were headed in the right direction, I felt completely out of control. Unfamiliar with kilometers per hour, panic kicked in.

Thankfully it wasn’t long until we found a button on the dashboard that adjusted the settings back to miles per hour. The scary scene only lasted a few brief minute. But, it was long enough to remind me of several things we can do when life seems out of control.

  1. Take inventory: Take a step back and ask what’s really true? It’s easy to be pulled into feeling stressed or panicked even when we don’t really need to be. In my situation, the speedometer said “panic” but the truth was that I was ok. Life can do the same. Our pace or troubles can pull us into a stressed tailspin. If we don’t know which issues require our immediate attention and what isn’t as bad as it seems, we might not use our resources the best way possible. Take time and take inventory.
  2. Identify: Identify one or two things you can change or do immediately. Or, are there one or two things on your plate that can wait? The first thing you change might be choosing to take something off your plate for a day, a week, or more. Also identify where you can receive help or support. Make a list of resources, friends, family, or support groups that could help you.
  3. Pray: Have you prayed about your situation? It’s easy to get caught up in the commotion of a stressed life and forget to do the obvious. The Bible even reminds us – You do not have because you do not ask God. – James 4:2b
  4. Keep going: Don’t let life derail you. Keep making progress one step after the next. It’s easy to become stuck when life feels overwhelming. Don’t focus on the mountain, focus on the very next step.
  5. Remember Comparison is dangerous. Although on the highway, seeing how fast others were driving seemed like a quick fix to see how we were doing, it’s a dangerous proposition. Gaging how we’re doing against others is a bad idea. Comparison can tell us we’re ok when we’re not, tell us we aren’t ok when we are, and can quickly pull us off track and put our focus in the wrong place.
  6. Be persistent in your good choices because your choices add up. Often we make progress before we see that we’re making progress. Without a doubt, at 105 km/h we were making progress towards home. In life, we may make progress even if we’re not able to easily measure it. For example someone who changes their exercise and eating habits may not see the scale move immediately. But, with their changes, they are going in the right direction. The scale just isn’t meaningfully measuring their progress yet. Be persistent in your good choices. Eventually you will see the progress.
  7. When in doubt, consult the manual. Had we not figured out which button adjusted the speedometer, the car’s manual would have been a lifesaver. In life, when we can’t figure out our troubles, the Bible is the manual to consult. The Bible is full of wisdom that has stood the test of time. I continue to be amazed by verses that can shed light on my difficult days and give me a bit of peace in the midst of my chaos. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

What would you do if you looked down to see 105? Have you ever felt that way in life – if so, what did you do? I’d love to hear from you!

Susan Call - Author

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