I went to a small college, where the main academic buildings were located in a central valley. The valley, which is exactly what the students and faculty called it, was bordered by four main streets. In order to get to my first class of the day, I had to cross one of these busy streets. Inevitably, I would start walking without looking first. (Yes, I blame my parents for this because I am sure I never heard them tell me to look both ways before I crossed a street.) If I gave my roommate a dollar for every time she put her arm on mine to stop me from crossing right as a car was coming, she could hire men to build a bridge from her current home in Texas to her homeland of South Africa.
Once I got to the other side of the street, I was safe for the rest of the day. Most of the academic buildings were connected via a maze of black-top pathways running up and down and around the valley. All I had to do was leave the doorway of the library and walk straight down the path to Decker Hall. Unless of course it was icy and I was wearing flats, in which case I would plant my feet like skis (or french fries as they teach the tots at ski school) and slide to the bottom of the hill. But that’s another story for another day.
The point is, in order to get where I wanted to go or needed to go, I had to cross these key throughfares. And I often had to do it alone, when there was no hand to pull me back up on the curb.
The last few weeks, I have been crossing the streets of my life and nearly getting pegged each time I cross. The thing is, I don’t need to cross these streets. I should be staying in my dorm, doing my homework, getting some rest and maybe even picking up my clothes. Instead, I want to cross the street and walk into the buildings called: Friend’s Business Hall, The Library of my Husband’s Issues, and the gigantic one towering over all the others, God’s Center for Direction.
Yesterday, I found the helping hand I needed. I was going crazy trying to get over to the other side to all of these places. Picture Frogger trying to get across traffic. Nerve-wracking. I called my friend Kristin and told her about the crazies. She gently grabbed my arm and said, “Why are you trying so hard to control the outcomes of all these things that are clearly out of your control?”
Oh yeah, I thought. It’s not time for me to cross the street. It’s time for me to stay on my side of the street and take care of business here. My friend’s business is her business. My husband needs space to work through his issues and God, well, God really doesn’t need me to direct anything. I think he can handle the world’s affairs without my help. So, I jumped out of the oncoming traffic, hopped back up the curb to my side of the street and went about the business that is my life.
Today I will look both ways before crossing the street, and I’ll evaluate whether I need to go there at all. Most of the time the answer is no. And if I could just remember that, I would sure save a lot of skipped heartbeats in the bodies of those who stand beside me just as I blindly step into traffic, nearly getting hit by the cars and trucks barreling down the road. Thank God for good friends who continue to grab my arm and pull me back. The ones who tell me I need to wait. The ones who walk with me, safely, when the time is right to cross the street, where they lead me not to My Friend’s Business Hall but to my own life. Even a life in the valley.