‘Lord, Please Make Sure I Take The Right Exit!’
Published: January 6, 2011
It’s me, Lorraine. Please don’t laugh, but I’m making my New Year’s resolutions. And, yes, I know we’ve been here before, but, really, this year is going to be different.
Lord, you know me inside and out, and you know my temperament isn’t going to alter dramatically. I mean, it would be wonderful if I could resolve to be a cheery, outgoing person, someone who has oodles of friends and social engagements.
But in fact, I tend to be a bit of a loner, Lord, and we both know that. So I’m not going to make any big pronouncements about turning into a social butterfly overnight. But I will try to help more people, even if that just means stopping by and saying a decade of the rosary with them.
My big resolution is about trust, Lord, and you know how I struggle with that. I like to envision myself at the wheel of the big car of life, shifting into fourth and breezing along on a highway that wends its way through sumptuous scenery. But in reality, I’m merely a passenger, and the highway is Spaghetti Junction with plenty of potholes. And sometimes I break down.
So, Lord, for 2011 please help me to know when to hit the brakes and when to accelerate. Help me to stop planning trips without checking with you first. And, oh, Lord, please make sure I don’t take the wrong exit. I would hate to lose you.
Every year I try to spend less money on myself and more on people who really need it. But buying too much stuff has become a real temptation, Lord. It’s partly because I spend so much time at the computer, and it seems the devil knows just how to reel me in with those very simple words: “free shipping.”
I turn on the machine and the screen dances with a tempting array of gorgeous images. There are cozy cashmere sweaters, glittering gems and silky skirts—and this morning I spotted these purple high heels, which would go perfectly with … oh, I’m sorry, Lord, I’m getting distracted again.
This year, I resolve to be more patient. You know how I am: I run into Publix and dash around collecting things as if the store were on fire and I must escape before the flames engulf me. Then I get on the checkout line and there’s this really elderly lady ahead of me. And, bless her heart, she’s painstakingly counting out the coins from this teeny-tiny change purse, which seems to take forever—and then she pauses to inquire about the cashier’s granddaughter and how she’s doing in beauty school.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to be compassionate, but inside I’m thinking: “Hurry! I have to get out before rush hour traffic hits.” And if I do happen to get stuck in traffic, then the devil starts cackling with joy because he knows the whole impatience thing will soon boil out of control. You’ve seen me, I’m sure, pounding the steering wheel, rolling my eyes and urging the poor driver ahead of me in no uncertain terms to GET THROUGH THE LIGHT OR ELSE!
Dear Lord, forgive me: I’ve been yammering on about these same resolutions for years. You probably get tired of hearing this stuff. But deep inside, I know only one thing will make this New Year special. It isn’t changing my personality or radically altering my reactions to things. It isn’t cleaning out closets or re-arranging book shelves, although, of course, these are probably not bad ideas.
I have to climb into the big car of life, and trust that wherever the road leads me, I won’t be alone. And when I hit a detour, Lord, and I surely will, and when I break down, and I surely will, I have to believe you’ll be right there with me.
Because one thing I’ve realized, after all these years on Planet Earth, is this: Whether I’m riding on the road or reciting the rosary, whether I’m waiting on line at the store or working online at home, I can’t do anything without you.
Thank you, God, for listening to me. And thank you for being only a prayer away.
Lorraine’s latest book is “Death of a Liturgist,” a rollicking farce about murder and mayhem at St. Rita’s parish. Artwork for this column is by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com). Readers may e-mail the Murrays at firstname.lastname@example.org.