I don’t know which one it is, I said, my throat tightening. The rain continued to fall, further obscuring my view from the back seat. I couldn’t see the house numbers. We had been in this neighborhood for fifteen minutes. My parents stayed quiet – they were surely getting irritated. What if we never found her house? We will go home. I will miss the sleepover. I will be the flaky girl who didn’t show up to the party. My social life – ruined.
I looked at the directions that I had written on a sheet of paper. My new friend had given them to me over the phone just before we left the house. Short of knocking on doors and asking if there was a junior high birthday party going on, there was no other way of getting there other than the route we had already taken over and over, three times now.
My dad patiently continued to drive slowly as I recited the directions. Turn right. Turn left. Take the second right. Veer left up, then down the hill. Why didn’t I write down street names? Frustration seized me. The tears in my eyes threatened to fall.
My mom asked me again what color the shutters were. I couldn’t even see colors. The panic in my heart was too big, the night too dark, too damp to see through the fog of the car windows.
At once I saw it. Balloons on the mailbox. This is it! I cried. Relief. I was a little late, but not much.
I wiped my face and gathered my bag and gift for my friend, a girl who I had met at my new school and had been friends with for months now. My parents walked me into the house and met her parents. They were strangers, people who my mom and dad were now trusting to be responsible for me, their only daughter, for the next sixteen hours. I said goodbye; they left.
My parents taught me so much about patient parenting from that experience. I never forgot those tense moments, the care and calm that they demonstrated as I panicked about missing my very first sleepover at a new friend’s house, a place that they were probably nervous about dropping me off in the first place. They understood that I was upset, and though they must have felt just as frustrated as I was, they never showed it. They willingly submitted to driving the same route over and over until we got there. They didn’t yell or show exasperation with my feebleness at giving directions. They knew where I was, and guided me through the steps needed to find my destination.
Isn’t this what God does with us? He guides us along the path we’re already on, even though it might not be the one that would lead us directly to our purpose. He gently leads us to where we are meant to be. It might take weeks or months or a lifetime until we adhere to the path he intended for us. The whole time, he encourages us and patiently waits for us to seek his will.
Thankfully that rainy night many years ago, we found our destination. Thankfully with God, we can do the same.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17 (NLT)