As I drove, I encountered large utility trucks assisting men with the removal of a tall pine tree; a yard was under construction. A block further, there were sheetrock and two by fours protruding from a red dumpster; a home was under construction. At the intersection where the neighborhood stopped and the highway began, yet another set of blinking lights signaled a bridge was under construction. The abundance of repairs being made was uncanny, and the whole scenario became a spiritual parallel.
Sometimes, we are traveling on the highway of life without a care in the world. It’s business as usual. It’s an ordinary day in our lives, packed with mundane tasks and maybe the occasional speedbump of distress or gentle curve of delight. Then, suddenly, we encounter a roadblock that forces our halt. It demands we sever our connection to the convenient and take a path we otherwise wouldn’t travel. We enter the world of the unfamiliar. New people. Strange places. Uncommon surroundings. Less than desirable issues. We want to turn back, but our instincts to navigate back to the known is thwarted with repeated obstructions. We wonder if we will ever arrive at where we want to be.
The detour requires us to take a new direction. Unlike the comfortable 4-lane thoroughfare, its winding turns insist we slow down. Stop signs and road crews necessitate complete stops. Then, when progress is permitted, we loop far from where we feel we ought to be. Our muscles tighten in angst. We fret over the loss of valuable time, we rail at the situation, we castigate the stupidity of going in circles. We grumble, feeling the very pavement beneath us jangle us with its textured ridges of discomfort.
Our detour is unsettling, fruitless, frustrating. And there is often no apparent assistance for the predicament. Instead, we are surrounded by works in progress that hold no answers. Everything in this new place is as incomplete as the road we were taken from. Looking to escape the process, to shorten the ride, to eliminate the setbacks is pointless. We have to endure until, just as suddenly as our way was up-ended, we return to smooth riding.
Detours are temporary, a road to travel while the bigger area of our lives is under construction. Illness or a disappointment or a failure or thwarted purpose can be detours. They plunge us into the unknown, surround us with chaos, and throw away the rules of time and convenience. However, if we simply carry on and go through the discomfort, we will be better for it. Not only will there be a return to that which is familiar, we’ll have a renewed appreciation for what we’ve been given. No more potholes to rattle our nerves. No more ruts that wear away our tread. No more pitfalls to damage the framework of our lives. The construction will have been worth the detour. What comes out of the disquiet, the change, and the things forced upon us make us better…and gives us a smoother ride to our eternal destination.