We are all about blazing our own paths. Car commercials put this on display at every turn. What could make you want to buy that truck more than driving it through the forest or jouncing that SUV down a lonely mountain? Even when an advertised car is actually on the road, it is there alone, racing away from the invisible pack.
(I mean, we even do this with a Pontiac Bonneville. A freaking Bonneville!?!)
We are individualistic and we raise our kids with this idea in mind and fantasize about our own ability to stomp off proudly into the unknown.
And then it snows, like today, and the lines on the road are covered, and truly we are left with forging a new path. I drove my wife to work today, and it was a stressful to-do. While there was a lack of visible roadway lines, there was not a dearth of other vehicles, all driving aimlessly along, like some sort of fatal version of bumper cars. It was a tenuous situation. At one point I had to ask my wife—a chipper morning person—to “please be quiet” during a certain stretch of road. I didn’t silence her out of cruelty; I did so because I was using all of my faculties to keep us from pin-balling against the other wayward cars.
And never before had I quite realized the importance of road lines.
With life it is no different.
What is keeping me from cheating on my wife or my taxes? What is stopping me from diving headlong into the metaphorical deep-end and swimming there without regard for my fellow man?
Simply put, it is the lines I follow.
And no this in not a call to moralism—Lord knows we need no more of those (after all, isn’t that what the 80’s and 90’s were for?). Nor is this a plea for more religion—the world has plenty of the stuff already, after all.
What this is, though, is the allowance of a standard in my life, and once there, a submissive obedience to said standard, like the lines on the pavement that are so very helpful.
We all have this, too. It is our upbringing or our culture or our rebellion or our beliefs or our un-beliefs. We are all following lines, whether they are made for us or we make them ourselves.
For me, the lines define me—the husband I am, the father I will be, the friendships I have. They determine how I treat those around me, regardless of their own lines. In a sense, they dictate how I drive, when I yield, when I slow to a stop and when I plunge ahead.
As we drove along today, I found that it was much easier when I placed our car into the lines of whoever had come before me. It kept me on the road, and as long as their tracks continued, it was evident that it had kept them on the road as well. This worked well enough, and I got my wife safely deposited to her workplace, and I headed toward my own.
I didn’t know who I had followed to get there, but I said a silent thanks all the same. I also added a thanks that in my life, I don’t have to follow a stranger, but can align myself into the already-made tracks of One who came to know and be known. Stay in those lines, and I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be.