I was in a hurry to get to an appointment the other evening and of course stuck in rush hour traffic on Baltimore’s I-83, feeling as though if I kept checking the time it would somehow speed things along when in all actuality it only increased the feeling of panic. (Challenge: the next time you are stuck in traffic while running late and there is nothing you can do about it, try your very hardest not to look at your clock. My bet is that you will find it much harder than you think to resist the urge to check). I was creeping forward, alternating from thrill and relief as cars finally started moving to the subsequent disappointment that accompanied my slamming on the brakes a moment later as ‘rush hour reality’ deflated my short-lived enthusiasm. This type of traffic has a way of unnerving me and creating a level of frustration that very few other things in my life are able to do. I attribute much of this frustration to my need for control and my glaring inability to control the traffic or my circumstances when stuck in it. Even as I emerge from the stop and go frenzy, I find that it can take me awhile to shake it off and get back into good mental space if I don’t purposefully address it.
Well, traffic finally began to lighten up and I was attempting to rid myself of rush hour frustration while now traveling at a reasonable speed, when a car in front of me continued to brake unnecessarily. This person continued to speed up and then brake, speed up and then brake and I irritatingly told him from my own car how terrible of a driver he was. I kept venting out loud, asking what his problem was and what was wrong with him, embracing the previous frustration I had tried to dispose. I was angry at this driver for how badly he was navigating the road and his inability to keep a steady speed. I finally saw an opening to switch lanes and get away from this menace. I quickly moved over with a final sentence about how he should not be allowed on the road when I looked up and saw the smaller car just in front of his bumper. I immediately saw the bigger picture, realizing that this man was simply responding to the driver in front of him. I felt instant conviction for how outraged I had been at this man as I irrationally reacted to what was directly in front of me without seeing the whole situation.
God spoke to my heart right then and there about how easy it is do this in life too. I respond to my immediate circumstances, not stepping back to see the bigger picture or trusting His control of the situation. It can happen as easily as not getting a job I wanted or feeling offended by something someone said, or feeling stuck in a situation without a clear exit plan. Whatever the circumstance may be, it is easy to miss what is just beyond it if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the frustration of the immediate impediment. When we are willing to adjust our perspective or simply move around the obstacle to gain a clearer picture, we are choosing to admit that we don’t know it all. When we stand so close to a puzzle we may see one piece of it or one color, but by simple taking a few steps back, the entire picture opens up. Today I am asking the Lord to remind me to step back and see things from a new perspective when I get stuck in my tunnel vision.