Picture this: I'm driving down the interstate, going the speed limit (okay, maybe 5 over - but definitely no more than that, I cannot afford a ticket), and I realize I need to get to the right lane because my exit is coming up in a few miles.
So, like a normal person, I put my blinker on to let drivers know that I need to get over. I check several times to make sure nobody is coming in the right lane (because honestly my biggest fear driving is colliding with someone in a situation like this) and all looks clear. I begin to get over, and lo and behold someone behind me going at least 85 mph swerves around me, blares their horn, and tells me to stay in my lane.
My heart begins pounding as I realize I escaped a seemingly bad situation, maybe even death. I'm mad that someone was so rude and reckless to drive way over the speed limit and swerve all over the road. But in that moment, I realize (aside from the Lord's protection) that my car has pulled me over back into my lane due to safety features.
All road rage aside (because who can't relate to getting frustrated on the road at some point? Be honest.), I realize that my car was pulling me back into my lane to protect me. That had I gone into the other lane, my car could've been totaled, or I could've been seriously hurt.
Sure, I was frustrated. I was so caught up in what happened, trying to calm down from a potentially scary moment, trying to not be angry at this person, that I missed my exit. It would take me 7-8 minutes longer to get where I was going, but in the long run, I was so thankful I tacked on those few extra minutes rather than the worst case scenario.
I think back to all other times in my life where situations caused me to more or less "stay in my lane" and I wonder why those things happen. Why I wasn't elected class president my senior year of high school after 3 years of holding that position. Why I didn't get a good enough scholarship to go to The University of Tennessee for undergrad. Why this boy or that boy didn't like me the way I liked them. Why I didn't get this job or internship I really thought I deserved.
I can't sit here and tell you why all these things (and then some) didn't happen the way I wanted to or planned. But what I can tell you is I am so thankful now that these things did or didn't happen because it ultimately kept me in my lane.
Do you struggle constantly wanting to know what's next? Or do you ever look at someone in the left lane or right lane and think, "Wow. They're killing the game. They've reached all their goals. They seemingly have a great/perfect life."? I certainly do, and I beg to think that you do too in some aspects of your life.
We live in the age of instant (and constant) gratification. If you're under the age of 30, (and I bet this is true for those over 30 too), you were raised in a home, school, team, or whatever else you were involved in to work really hard, all the time, never giving up, never stopping, pursuing your dreams, and to always think ahead. Having goals and dreams are great. They're a big reason we continue to move forward and work hard. But when we work so hard for that one thing that's in arm's reach and finally get there, what do we often realize? It's either not all that it's cracked up to be, or it's great, but we want more - something bigger and better.
So we start thinking, dreaming, and envisioning what the next goal is, never fully immersing ourselves in the present - gaining experiences and learning hard earned lessons we need to now that will ultimately help us reach our next goal. And if you're a believer, you often miss opportunities in the now that could have an eternal impact.
Again, don't get me wrong: dreaming and having goals to reach those dreams are a great thing, and I strongly encourage it. But do you want to look back on your life 30 years from now and realize all the moments and opportunities you missed because you were too focused on the future?
We have to recognize the difference in haste and call to action. Haste urges us to move forward in excessive speed, causing us to make rash decisions, not think clearly, or hurry through a decision. A call to action (or from a believer perspective - what you feel you're being called into next) is recognizing a need, knowing you have the skills to meet those needs and think thoroughly how to do so effectively.
Maybe you're struggle isn't constantly wanting to know what's next, but rather the comparison trap of those in the lanes next to you driving by at a faster speed.
I personally think these two things are intertwined, but maybe that's just me.
Friend, it is SO hard to see your peers, friends, or family taking steps that you want to but can't or haven't been given the opportunity to. I get it. It's hard and it seems unfair. I searched for jobs my entire last semester of grad school and then 2.5 months after graduation before I landed where I am now. It was incredibly hard to see my classmates I graduated with have jobs lined up on graduation day or shortly after without even the possibility of an interview in sight. But what I learned in those 2.5 months of waiting is that I was given a beautiful gift of time to remain in my season - spending time with Taylor and friends in Louisville without too great of responsibilities or bills - something that was likely to never happen again. And honestly, the comparison of seeing those people succeed by obtaining jobs came with envy, as I felt I deserved the same.
It's hard to be happy and joyful for those in our lives taking steps when we are full of envy or jealousy or when we feel like we deserve those things too (aka, pride). And not to say that you don't deserve those things - but know that if you don't give up, you WILL reap at the right time (Galatians 6:9) and when the pieces finally come together, it will make a whole lot more sense why things played out the way they did.
Whatever it is that causes you to not stay in your lane, can easily cause you to miss the exit that is specifically marked for you. When we try to take a hard grasp of control and not let go, we miss opportunities and moments in the now because we are blinded by whatever it is we are trying to get to. We might even take a wrong turn or take the wrong exit when we try to get in other people's lanes, and eventually you might find yourself feeling like there's no point of return. (Been there!)
Maybe you've had a job or internship in mind and you've planned out all the necessary experience you need, people to meet, and how to apply. You've done everything right and now you're ready for the leap. You finally get hired and you realize you hate it. Or maybe you get to the final interview and are turned down. Either way, you feel there has been a lot of wasted time, you feel hopeless, and you feel stuck on what to do next.
Or maybe you've been dating this guy or girl for a while and everything seems to go smoothly. He or she could be the one. You've shared your affections and intentions and they're reciprocated, but one day you meet up with them and things end. You're heartbroken and feel frozen.
No matter what the situation is, you feel like you're at the end with nowhere to go. You've missed the mark.
But there is hope.
No matter how stuck or lost you may feel, how many wrong turns you've made, you have not screwed up the plan for your life. When you take a step back and recognize Who is control, you will be lead in the right direction. Those steps may be painful, but they will be so worth it. If you're presented with choices and aren't sure what to do - remember that if you pursue God's will, you won't miss it.
Staying in your lane isn't about staying out of people's way. Staying in your lane is about focusing on what you're called to do, trusting Who is in control, and knowing if you stay in your lane, the impact you make here on earth will be far better than if you hop in a different lane.