I am terrible at parking. Ask my parents. They’re regularly regaled at the dinner table with tales of how I parked a mile away from the entrance of bookstores and class buildings because I was terrified of parking between two other cars.
When I’m daring enough to try, I swing wide. Or I go narrow. I spin the wheel. Or I ease into it. Sometimes I even make it between the lines and Hallelujah.
But my truck’s most often crooked. I’m between the white lines all right, but I’m easing open the driver’s side door so I don’t whack my neighbor. Or I’m wincing at the smidgen of space I’ve left my other neighbor to ease open their door with. Sorry, stranger.
The other day as I was pulling out of a spot and driving back in in an effort to look like I hadn’t parked crookedly on purpose, I remembered something. Straighten her up, my daddy said when he was teaching me to drive and park and see over the dash and remember to go the speed limit lest I make the other cars mad for being too slow.
I’m really no good at straightening the truck up once I’m in the space, but I try.
I’m no good at straightening up my thoughts, either.
I fall into the I’m-less-than trap quite often. The I-can’t-do-this trap, too. My thoughts send me spiraling into the darkness of the devil’s lies, and I believe that I’m not beautiful enough or tall enough or talented enough to be all I want to be, all He’s calling me to be.
Those traps are terrible places to be. Perhaps you recognize them. The singeing heat of I’m not loved. The frostbitten feel of I’m not even liked. The sodden ground of I’m incapable of keeping up. The sinking sand of I’m a failure.
Sometimes in ordinary days, trapdoors open in my mind and, before I’ve even blinked, it’s closed above me. Suffocating and claustrophobic, panicking or quietly acknowledging my own inadequacies, I lunge for a latch and–nothing.
Daring to try to escape, I swing wide to avoid my own mind. I go narrow and pour myself into my to-do list. I spin the wheel futilely.
I leave messages from friends unanswered, I bury myself in work, and I shy away from mirrors. Oh, I am very good at shying away from mirrors when I trip into that particular trap. In the ladies room, I wash my hands while focusing on my fingers. When walking past glass doors on campus, I watch my feet and ignore my own reflection. I won’t even look in the rear-view mirror.
Then I remember to ease myself into Truth. Abandon my own thoughts for His. Focus on Scripture. Fight falsehood with the Truth. And confession? I don’t always feel better right away. I don’t always feel immediately brave enough to face mirrors or messages. The latch to the trapdoor doesn’t materialize all at once. Often I fall right back into a thought trap and I have to climb right back out of it again, clinging to my Jesus’ hand.
“Lead me in your truth…” Psalm 25:5
But always, eventually, slowly, the door opens, sunshine seeps its way in again, and I find the courage to step outside back into bright, beautiful reality. The reality of Him calling me His own.
I tell someone else they’re beautiful. I wink at the mirror. I thank God for a gift. I write. It’s a slow process, this escape plan. It’s a conscious decision to choose Truth over emotion and reality over distorted perception. A journey I can walk only with Jesus.