What To Do When The Road Ahead Is Filled With Uncertainty

Friday, November 20, 2020

  The road of uncertainty....have you ever been on it?  Are you on it now?  John and I recently found ourselves on a fabulous little dirt road recently in Schoharie County, one of those roads that beckons you to make a quick turn off the main highway.  I could see by looking at the GPS on my phone that it was quite long, but did indeed come out eventually onto a main road.  This was a typical detour for our road trips, foregoing the main road for the adventure and slower pace of its dirt and gravel counterpart.  We're used to potholes and road dust and the extra time it takes us to navigate obstacles so we can enjoy the journey in a less rushed pace.  It's always worth the gamble........and the sacrificial dirty vehicle.

At the beginning of the road we passed a farm, a few old forsaken barns and homes, a few still inhabited but eventually we were surrounded by nothing but vegetation.  The road often narrowed, many times causing us to wonder what we'd do if we were met by an oncoming car since there was no place to pull off to make way for them.  We'd traveled up hills and down, negotiated curves and bends and after a long while we were faced with the scene pictured in the photograph above.  Without realizing it, we were suddenly enveloped in shadows.  The road ahead looked as if it might actually end at the edge of a cliff.  What we could see ahead, beyond our shadows looked as if it were miles away - the road and our connection to anything just disappearing somewhere between us and the world beyond.  For a moment or two, we were suspended in the unknown of what was ahead and if it was safe to proceed.

Life in 2020 is not much unlike the situation we were in on that dirt road.  Navigating life in 2020 has been a series of potholes and dangerous curves, our view ahead often obstructed by conditions that were unfamiliar and unsafe.  We've been called upon to change our direction and detour down a road that wasn't on our GPS.  Some have lost jobs and income, kids had to leave the company of their friends in school and navigate the ups and downs of virtual learning, people used to being surrounded by friends and co-workers had to learn to function in a quiet, contained, solo bubble.  What used to be the norm, even if that norm was filled with chronic illness, life without a spouse, limited funds, normal life struggles, now was a new, even more challenging norm.  We all deal with daily challenges, but now, on top of those, are new challenges, new detours, new fears...all a little more difficult to navigate because we have no GPS, no book of directions, no help on Google, no Siri or Alexa to guide us through the problem.  We are stranded on a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere, without a compass or GPS with no cell service.  All we have left to guide us is our faith.

Sitting in the car, shadowed by the surrounding, decades-old trees offering just a tiny view of the light and hope ahead, we knew our only option was to trust our faith and proceed ahead with caution.  We couldn't stay still, idling in the shadows, we couldn't turn back, there was no room for that, all we could do was go forward.  2020 is just like that.  We can't turn back, we can't forget or pretend we're in a dream, though we wish we were, we can't rely on magic wands to wave us out of the nightmare....all we can do is trust our gut and take a leap of faith forward.

I have done pretty well tolerating the limitations Covid has caused.  Being a homebody and somewhat of an introvert, I wasn't feeling cooped up or lonely.  My immediate family is close by and I see them often.  I'm pretty efficient at online shopping and can always be amused taking photos of birds out my window or writing when the inspiration strikes, so I felt life wasn't all that compromised, for me at least.  The political insanity which we assumed would end on Election Day continues.  Tensions and dissentions rage on as even a tradition as old and democratic as an election has gone haywire and is in dispute.  Numbers of Covid cases are on the rise at a stunningly alarming rate and here we are with Thanksgiving next week,  Christmas not far behind, and we find ourselves once again standing on the edge of a cliff, unable to see where the road leads.  

People often tell me my blog posts or Facebook posts bring a positive message and light.  I've noticed lately when I schedule my daily posts, it's hard to find an uplifting thought to add.  I've felt discouraged and tired of the rut we're still in, since March, tired of sacrificing family gatherings even though I know we must in order to keep my 88 yr old mom safe.  Normally Christmas is a two month event for our household but this year I can't even find the spirit to decorate.  I just want it to be New Year's Eve and hope and pray that 2021 brings us a paved road that's free of potholes and detours.  I find that I've let myself slip into the vacuum of the darkness of despair where I know so many have been these past several months even though I was convinced it wouldn't happen to me.  Yet here I am. 

 2020 isn't over and there's no guarantee that 2021 will be different.  We have no way of knowing what tomorrow has in store, or if our GPS will be able to guide us through.  We can be sure there will still be people who disbelieve that Covid is real and those people will balk at the restrictions and their rights being infringed upon by wearing a mask or not being able to sit at a bar.  We can be sure our political future will continue to be riddled by doubt and defiance, even if it's from the sidelines once the new administration is in place.  Too much damage has been done for it to be totally restored.  Despair and disappointment in life is guaranteed, God never promised otherwise.  But He did say this, "Do Not Be Afraid".  He said it 365 times in the bible.  That means that everyday, all year, we can remind ourselves that no matter how scary the situation we find ourselves in, no matter how uncertain the road ahead, no matter how desperate we feel, God says, do not be afraid.  We may not have thought of this reassurance that day on the dirt road, but our faith told us to move forward.  The light was in front of us, not behind us.  The unknown is scary, but idling in place is pointless.  We could all give up and hope what we see is a giant cliff ahead where we can leap out of the nightmare we're in, but then how would we know how the story ends?  The only way to know is to keep driving, slow and steady, out of the darkness and into the light, with faith and hope and trust that this is not how the story ends.  Life ahead may not be a fairytale, but I want to believe there's something better in store......if we just keep moving.

Thank you for hanging in there and for being the light that keeps me moving along!

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