I like straight lines.
Lines that have no knots, kinks or loops I have to untie, hurdle over, or wind around. Predictability. Stability. A day that starts and ends with a nice straight line from morning ‘til night…
Having everything go my way.
Life has a way of messing up our straight lines.
Summer with the kids home all day has a way of adding some bumps and barriers and winding tunnels that take us nowhere or somewhere or everywhere, surely unplanned. Things happen. Schedules rearrange themselves on the go and if I try real hard to allow this to naturally flow as it should… it can be liberating.
But lately I haven’t had that free flowing spirit. I’ve wanted to hold on tight to the lines and stay the course, for just one day. One day. But when you start your day with coffee machines spilling out, or find your quiet time out in the torrential downpour pulling the kid’s slide through the mud to hoist it up against the house to redirect the gushing gutter waters from flooding your basement, or you come home to find your refrigerator warm– on top of kids wanting this or that instead of this or that, and calls to come and then go, and needs arising from loved ones, to ripple that line just one more time…
It pretty much sucks the peace and plan out of any straight-lined predictable path.
Then there’s this new-found excruciating pain right at my screwed-up joint. Like those screws have somehow found a way to create their own bulging bump , protruding from the fused bone-what should be a nice solid straight line.
This just makes all the lines hard to walk on. Winding or straight.
Some days, I can embrace the unknown paths life creates with a zest and zeal that says “I got this!” Other days, any sharp corner I hit, propels an intense surge of anxiety, as I attempt to control the tiniest turns and twists that threaten my peace.
Lately, it’s been the latter of the two.
I hate that about anxiety. Its ebb and flow comes and goes without my control… its sinister ways can grab me mercilessly and suffocate my breaths.
These days, there are so many barriers to that straight line- although miniscule and mundane- they have been coming in droves…I am tired of fighting it, and I’m left in a ball of nerves.
Then there’s those drop offs:
Those predictable lines that suddenly break-and the path abruptly ends.
You’re dangling off the edge…
With no line to cling to, no ground ahead, because the line is gone. You hang there with every morsel of strength to hold on, as you desperately try to produce a new course- any path to survive. It’s momentarily formed underneath each new step you take. There is no line ahead of you to guide you, or to plan, or to predict.
My friend found a lump in her breast. It was cancer.
Her straight line cut in that moment, planning for the worst as she dangled off the edge. Survival mode: See surgeons, oncologist, tests, MRI, blood work, counseling, second opinions. Each step newly formed out of strength to overcome.
Today I took two beautiful teenagers out for a much needed distraction, because it was Father’s Day. One, whose father left when she was just a young child. Another who suddenly lost her dad just months ago.
Straight lines cut. Tragically. Survival pushes each step, whilst they create a completely new new line- full of more hurdles and bumps in which I could never imagine.
Our church has been struggling for a while now. With desperate hopes to withstand the bumps, the knots, the twists and turns in our once straight line… we are looking at difficult decisions about the home we once knew.
We find ourselves anticipating dangling on the edge of our broken line, clinging tight, praying for guidance in where to find our new path.
Life has a way of breaking our straight lines.
But here’s the thing…
We have more straight lines than we think. Despite our unraveling roads filled with jagged edges and new-found dips, bumps and hidden hills…
We all have a lot of straight lines. Think about your own life, would you?
Lots of things go right, instead of wrong- don’t they?
Sometimes, we are so distracted with our own curving corners, that we can’t see the many straight ones we so steadily assume.
What are your straight lines?
For me? In this moment, I quietly reflect on three big ones.
1. I may have lost all my woman parts due to the BRCA1 mutation years ago, but I was blessed with never having to face the diagnosis of Breast Cancer.
No broken lines to worry about there.
2. I came home after dropping the girls off from our day, and I got to call my father. Better yet? He told me that I was a great writer, I was as strong as Sacagawea and that he loved me.
Ah…Seamless straight line there.
3. I was able to go to my church today, and leave my church without the horrific scene of evil splattering the blood of my precious loved ones.
No jagged edges to cling to here.
So as I think about my back to back schedule tomorrow, knowing full well something will surely create some nerve-racking curves, causing some races to not even enter the finish line…
I am reminded that I have enough straight lines and predictable paths to get me through.
And as you set out to navigate your own twists and turns that once where straight lines, or perhaps you are dangling on the edge of the drop off-
Where there once was a steady step…
Maybe you can remember the straight lines you have in your life too.
And sometimes. Sometimes.
That new crooked path turns out better than any straight-lined predictable plan we had.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.