This is the classic story of Emily’s Stolen Car: I walked out of the mall and scanned the parking lot for my car. No car. I walked up and down the rows of cars, hunting for my car. No car, no car. It must have been stolen.
I ran back inside and borrowed a phone to call my sister. “Come and get me,” I said, emotional. “My car’s been stolen.”
So she came and picked me up. “I drove past your car on the way to get you,” she said.
“No way,” I answered, still sniffling. “I looked all over!”
But she drove me right to it. On the other side of the mall. I had walked out the wrong door.
Maybe that’s a mistake anyone could make, once. And it’s true I’ve never made that particular directional error twice. I always check what’s for sale when I walk in the Macy’s doors now–I make sure to walk out of the door by the luggage rack. There’s no guarantee I’d emerge from the correct door if I didn’t force myself to pay attention to it.
The stolen-car thing is a one-time deal. I hope. But I have many, many other Directionally Challenged Emily stories: the time, riding the bus in Utah, I got on the wrong one and ended up in American Fork, at the end of the line. (I called the same long-suffering sister to get me.) The time on my mission I spent an entire P-Day afternoon on a bus riding through scary parts of Guayaquil, trying to remember which stop was mine while my greenie got more and more peeved (and deservedly so. The day culminated with us locking ourselves out of our apartment while hauling bags of wet laundry.) The time, also on my mission, when I was in a new area, and we were driving to church with an investigator. Except I’d just been in the area two weeks when my companion left, and I didn’t remember how to get to our own church. (That day culminated in our getting mugged. Nice.)
For this reason I have a strong testimony of Mapquest. Also Google Maps. Also GPS. And cell phones. You’d think that living with Utah’s grid system and all these maps, I would never get lost. Sadly, it happens just about every time I try to navigate someplace new.
And the Lord knows this about me. He knows that finding my way around paralyzes me, that it scares and humiliates me to be perpetually lost. Therefore, He sent me on a mission to Ecuador. And he gave me many short-duration companions–I’d have two weeks to learn the area before my companion was transferred and I was left bewildered and lost. I would make maps for myself, recite lists of street names like rosaries, praying that I’d be able to find my way around, that I would not look as foolish as I felt.
Basically I found out that the Lord did not care too much about my looking foolish. It humbled me, and humility is good for missionaries. He did, however, care very much about getting the work done. And He cared enough about me to force me to find my way around, over and over, helping me confront my fear of being disoriented.
Wow I am feeling long-winded tonight. I have so many getting lost stories, and so many mission stories. But the story I want you to read, after all that, is Brooke Benton’s eloquent essay “Small and Simple Things.” She talks about how a calling to play the piano blessed her to overcome her fears, and taught her deep truths about the reciprocal blessings of consecration. Go read it, and tell me how you relate to her story, or to mine … and if there’s anyone else who is directionally challenged, for the love of Mapquest, let me know I’m not alone!