An entry from my personal journal on July 11, 2010:
A day shrouded in fog…that’s what it feels like today. Buddy died yesterday and today I have to talk with the mortuary people and decide what to do with his body…talk with Pic about doing a memorial service…it’s a day that I cannot see what will happen or even what I should do. I am numb and lost. And so I take Your hand as I face this day shrouded in fog. You see clearly…I see very, very little. I trust You…I rely on You…I need you desperately. Take my hand, Father. You know the way.
I love the mountains. Living in Southern California provides me the opportunity to easily drive up to the mountains for a getaway. Literally, I can be there in about an hour. There is something so fresh and clean about the mountains. I’m not hesitant to drive up winding roads and the drive is beautiful. Unless there is fog. Oy vey. Fog.
I have been on my way to a mountain cabin when I suddenly drove into a wall of fog (low clouds?). Literally, I can see 15 feet ahead of me, and this on a road that winds and curves crazily, and plummets hundreds of feet just to my right. It is scary, not invigorating. I’ve learned to go as slow as I need to and as carefully as I want to. The great blessing is that sometimes a truck will come up behind me and pass me but then slows down so I can see his tail lights. It is an invitation to follow him. He knows the road; it is familiar to him. Suddenly I feel my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel loosen and my shoulders relax a bit. Someone is leading me who knows the way. (Confession: I have actually had the thought that even if he makes a wrong move I’ll see him go over the side and I’ll know not to follow. Yes, I’m awful. Pray for me.)
There is so much of life that feels like fog. Whether it is seasons of life, circumstances, or fear, we sometimes face life unable to see or discern exactly what to do, where to go or how to get there. It can be a big decision like marriage or job or buying a house. It can be a crisis like the death of a spouse, loss of job or severe health issues. It can be a dream that compels us forward but we fear going after it or don’t know how to begin. Fog can spring up at any time in our life. If you’re older than 5 you probably have faced it several times. What do we do?
Slow down. Don’t barrel forward and slam on the brakes. Slow Down.
Process your situation. Seek out trusted, sane people who know you and love you.
Act. When you have an inkling of what to do next, take a step. Even just one.
Fog can be debilitating. It can incite fear, anxiety, misdirection and confusion. Fog happens. Use wisdom, patience and your best people to navigate. God sees you and He cares. That helps tremendously.
Slow down: don’t keep barreling forward when you aren’t sure where you’re going. I have had the privilege (and pain) of being invited into troubled, broken marriages. It may be infidelity or other betrayal, or it might simply be that pain and brokenness over time have chipped away at anything that binds two people together. My one piece of advice is this: ‘until you know what to do, don’t do anything.’ That may sound over-simplified but I’ve found that when big decisions are made out of intense emotion it can lead to regret. You might ultimately make the same decision, but you’ve thought about it with reasoning and input. This is the fog effect. When you find yourself suddenly in dense fog, do you hit the gas and speed up? Do you just slam on the brakes? (Dangerous!) Hopefully not. Slow down.
Process your situation. If you’re a praying person, that’s the optimal place to begin. (If you’re not, may I suggest you start. Just sayin’…). Processing your situation means that you slow down and think about it. Play out possibilities in your mind and consider alternative responses. Talk with trusted friends who are as likely to challenge your thinking as to encourage it. If you are thinking of leaving your husband don’t talk to your man-hater friend. If you are considering a big job offer don’t talk to a friend who can’t hold a job. Choose a friend or mentor who knows the road and can see through the fog better than you can, like my nameless friend in the truck. Process before you make a decision.
Act. Once you have slowed down and processed with trusted people, then do it. Stir up your courage and do what you need to do. While it was great that the truck driver pulled in front of me to help me navigate the foggy mountain road, it would have done me no good unless I followed him. I chose to trust and to act. Your action may be a difficult conversation with someone or it may be a big life move. Don’t set up camp in the fog and let it define the quality and freedom of your life. Fog happens. It doesn’t own you.
My husband, Budd, died suddenly in the wee hours of a Saturday morning. It was unexpected and it was final. There was no preparation or planning. The fog was intense. There was so much that I didn’t know. I had three important things in my life: my God, my kids and my friends. They were the caravan of trucks that pulled in front of me in the blinding fog and led the way for me. My sister flew in from Florida the next day. My son and daughter, in their own grief, walked with me every step of the way through decisions, paperwork and a new way of living. My church family handled the memorial service, food, prayers….so much. And through it all there was God — His tangible presence as I cried and his strength to hold me up through those first few weeks and beyond. I never want to do fog alone. If you don’t have anyone in your life today that you know would walk through fog with you, I encourage you to begin nurturing those kinds of relationships – with God, with family if you can, and with friends. We were never meant to navigate this life alone.
I pray that your days of fog would be few and that your resources would be mighty.
Psalm 23:2 Sometimes God leads us to rest and be restored:
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
For that is what God is like.
He is our God forever and ever,
and he will guide us until we die.
Isaiah 30:21 How amazing is it that the God who created everything chooses to talk to us!
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 42:16 In the Old Testament God’s people were Israel. In the New Testament God’s people are followers of Jesus (the Church).
I will lead blind Israel down a new path,
guiding them along an unfamiliar way.
I will brighten the darkness before them
and smooth out the road ahead of them.
Yes, I will indeed do these things;
I will not forsake them.
Psalm 25:5 God is our ultimate and eternal hope.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.