For the last couple of weeks, I have been contemplating the idea of tunnel vision. It’s one of those things that just continues popping up in my head at different times and in different ways, and I figure that it must be something that God wants me to spend some time on. Does that ever happen to you? It started about a month ago when I went back to Iowa (where I was born and raised) for a few days, and then was cemented in my head about 10 days ago.
On my first full day in Iowa, I went to my old church to say hi to a few people. I stopped in to talk to a friend of mine that I hadn’t talked to in years. We caught up as much as possible in the 30 minutes we were able to chat, and it was such an awesome time. I just love reconnecting with friends. During our conversation, I filled her in on some of my struggles over the last couple of years, and there were several things that she said that really stuck with me. You know how there are some people who just seem to always say exactly what you need to hear – sometimes without even realizing it? I felt that so strongly when I left the church that day. There were a few things that my friend said to me that touched my heart and made me feel like I was finally on the road back to the hope and joy that seemed to have been lost for me recently. But there was one thing in particular that really made me start thinking about where I have been, where I am, and where I want to be.
As I was getting ready to leave, my friend said, “Well, it sounds like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel – and it’s not a freight train.” This friend has always had the gift of making me laugh – well, really making anyone laugh. She’s just got that quick, quirky, outgoing type of personality, and it was impossible not to laugh at the picture she painted with her words. But it was the idea of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that really caught my attention. Everyone’s heard that phrase before – I’ve even used it in talking with other people and in thinking about my own life. Actually, as I write this, I can remember the last time I thought about the light at the end of the tunnel. It was right after I had decided to move away from Iowa. I remember thinking that I finally felt like I was coming out of the cold, dark tunnel, and I was realizing that the tunnel – though it was not a fun place to be – had been the most effective way to get to the other side of the obstacle. I am now realizing that the tunnel I’ve been in is also probably the only way through the obstacle that has been in my way.
As I began contemplating that thought, God sent another example using the concept of a tunnel. This time it was a physical example of the ‘tunnel vision’ that has clouded every aspect of my life.
A good friend and I had made tentative plans to go get a pedicure the weekend before last. On Saturday afternoon, she texted me to firm up those plans. She was out with her husband running some errands, and she asked me to find a place for us to go that was close for both of us. She mentioned checking to see if there was anything close to my exit off of 50. I got on google to check it out, but I wasn’t expecting to find anything. Every day, I got on and off 50 at that exit, and I couldn’t picture a nail salon anywhere close. When I searched for nail salons in Cameron Park, one of the results was on the road that I exit. There is a little strip on the left corner when I turn onto the highway. There’s a little pizza place, an auto parts store, a liquor store, and a really good donut place. On that day, I learned that there is also a nail salon. As many times as I’ve driven by that little strip, not once did I notice that there was a nail salon there. I was never looking for one there until that day. I wish that I could say that it was located in a section of the strip that made it difficult to see from the street, but that’s not the case. From where I turn to get on the highway, the nail salon is one of the first stores I should see – if I was looking. Not only that, but it is right next to the donut shop that I like so much. There is only one reason that I never noticed it before – tunnel vision.
I am the type of person who likes to get things done. I think about my destination, not my journey. It is like I travel through a tunnel as I get to where I am going. I am not saying that focusing on a destination is a weakness. Quite the opposite, actually. I believe it to be a strength. But, as with all strengths, without a little balance, they can be our downfalls. On my way to where I’m going, I don’t pay much attention to what I’m passing. In some ways, I know that part of the reason why is that I am afraid of what I might see. I have been trained most of my life that the world is a scary place, and I need to take care of myself. So if I take the time to see what is around me, I may run right into that danger. If I get where I’m going in the quickest way possible, I can avoid being noticed by those that may cause me harm. But what God is trying to teach me is that I am also missing some good things along my journey. I need to relearn how to get to my destinations – how to enjoy the journey.