Many years ago, when I was still in college, my parents took me on what would be one of last vacations together. We were going to Colorado. We drove from our home in Dallas to my grandparents’ house in Odessa to start our journey. It was a long drive we’d made often together during my childhood. We spent a few days visiting my grandparents before boarding an airplane at the Midland/Odessa airport, bound for Albuquerque, New Mexico. From there, we rented a car to drive to our destination in Colorado.
When we arrived in Albuquerque, we spent a few hours visiting some special places in my Dad’s childhood memory from growing up in New Mexico. It was fairly late in the afternoon before we headed out to find our lodging in Colorado. We still had quite a drive ahead of us-over unfamiliar mountain roads, in the dark. My dad did most of the driving. Mom and I took turns dozing. Soon, still driving down a state highway at about 60 miles per hour, we see a sign fly by:
Being from Dallas, none of us had encountered this sign often (though I have seen them many times since!). We had approximately 2.5 seconds to contemplate its exact meaning. Then, there was a big jolt, and a loud “thunk”, and we were travelling at 60 miles per hour on a dirt road…a dirt road that was supposed to be a state highway! My dad slowed the vehicle to a reasonable speed for the new surface. We all started laughing uncontrollably.
We’ve often looked back on this first part of our trip. It still makes us laugh when we think back on it. It was one of the most memorable parts of that vacation.
This incident is a relevant metaphor for life, though. We often cruise through our lives, not paying enough attention to the road ahead of us. Or maybe, we just don’t understand or appreciate what we’re looking at, just like we didn’t understand that warning sign on a mountain road all those years ago. Then, along comes that sudden jolt and “thunk” to jar us back to our senses. It forces us to slow down to truly spend time with and depend on those around us. Sometimes, these jolts can be painful. Maybe it’s a sudden move, or a lost job, or even the death of a loved one. These types of events force us to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life…things we might have missed otherwise. Things like really spending time with our kids, and really listening to what they tell us. Like taking time to enjoy a sunrise and coffee (or your morning beverage of choice) with someone you love. Maybe its taking the time to reach out and spend some time with an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years.
Since my husband and I were married nearly nine years ago, we’ve had many small moments where the pavement suddenly ended…and a few big moments too. One of the biggest was when we made the decision to move out of town to a farm that was an hour away from anything…a place where the pavement quite literally ended! Our whole lives changed when we made that decision. We were expecting Lizard at the time, and my hands were full with an 18 month old Bear. I was so sick, and there was so much to be done. But somehow (mostly because of my husband), we made it through.
We can’t imagine today how different our lives would have been if we had stayed in town. That life is so far gone that it seems almost like it must have belonged to someone else. We moved out here knowing nothing about what we were doing, and what we know now we’ve learned from our own experiences…messing up, and trying again a different way. Of the many important lessons I’ve learned, one of the most important is that my family is always here. When everything gets too overwhelming, I can count on my husband and my children (even as young as they are) for love, support, and help. That’s what being a family is all about. The Lord gave us our family for a reason, and I am forever grateful for mine!
When the pavement ends, that’s when life gets interesting.