The other day, I was driving home after a long day at work and there was a car ahead of me that kept weaving lanes. Every few seconds, the driver would switch lanes back and forth between lanes in an effort to get ahead and beat traffic. But you know what? No matter how much maneuvering the driver did, he didn’t make it to his destination any faster than if he would’ve stayed in his lane. He stayed two cars away from me the whole time.
And that got me thinking: What if we stopped trying so hard to speed along life the way we see fit and instead started driving steadily in our own lane?
lane lān/ noun noun: lane; plural noun: lanes 1. a narrow road, especially in a rural area. "she drove along the winding lane" synonyms: road, street, byroad, byway 2. a division of a road marked off with painted lines and intended to separate single lines of traffic according to speed or direction. "the car accelerated and moved into the outside lane" synonyms: track, way, course
Lanes aren’t meant to restrict you. Lanes are meant to regulate traffic “according to speed and direction.” People are free to swerve into other lanes lane. There’s definitely room to do that, but it’s not necessarily always for their good or for the good of those around them. We can avoid catastrophic collisions by going the right speed, heading in the right direction and staying in our lane.
Think about people in politics who once had successful careers in other spaces, such as medicine, but now are losing traction since they switched courses. Think of your unhappy family member who started working at the bank because of the promise of a good paycheck even though their passion is actually in the arts. Sometimes it’s really clear that something isn’t for you. I believe that there’s a lane marked out for you in this life that you should do your best to run faithfully even when it’s hard.
Two distinct and very popular verses come to mind when I think of this, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) and the passage in Matthew 7:4 warning that the narrow road is the best way to go, but it’s not an easy one and only few find it.
These passages seem to indicate that there is a blueprint mapped out for us that lead us to a good life. However, there might be different ways to approach the map to get to your final destination. In fact, it might actually take some genuine searching and trial-and-error to discover your way. But I believe you’re one of the few that will find it. And once you do, you’ll probably find that the path ahead of you is narrow and hard. Nevertheless, there is still much to be gained by staying on that path through thick and thin.
Because as long as your heart is still beating, you have a purpose and path for your life.
So get to know your lane intimately and own it. Walk in it confidently. There’s lots of adventure and possibility to be found in your lane. You can know that you have event coordination skills, but not quite know if you want to be a wedding planner or a celebrity publicist. You can pursue a career in comedy, but end up exploring stand-up, screenwriting and acting options. Our lanes can be narrow and yet still overflowing with room for opportunity, discovery and growth.
It’s so easy to try to bulldoze and strategize our own way through life, like the car that I mentioned earlier that was speeding along without much progress. Do not get me wrong. Planning and maneuvering around obstacles are good things, but it might be more work for little reward if you’re on a course without clear guard rails or goals.
Another way to say it is: Treat life like a marathon. Go for the long run. Keep the finish line in mind along the way. Be purposeful and mindful of each step you take. Get creative with ways to keep yourself energized about the journey. There’ are both wins and obstacles to be found on your path. Don’t feel the need to rush. Pace yourself. Just do your best to stay on track and run your course.
So let’s ask ourselves, what if we just stayed in our lane? What if we purposefully trusted God’s plan, including his speed and direction, instead of trying to create our own? What if we actively leaned in to Him, The One who holds the blueprints, to ask what our next best step is on our path to success? What if we treated life more like a marathon and not a race? I truly believe this is where we’ll start to discover the best version of ourselves.