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Just One Word: Align

Just One Word: Align

Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon


Before I share thoughts about this month’s word, I have to share how it came to be the word of the month. First of all, I don’t love going places by myself. I like having someone’s company when I have to go running around. It’s just more fun that way. It’s also reassuring to have backup. I am TERRIBLE with directions. That’s not THE reason I dislike going alone, but it sure is a comfort to know that I can tap into someone else’s mind power when it comes to “Which way do I go next?” When running around here in Ashland, I shouldn’t struggle like I do. I’ve lived here pretty much all my life (except for the two years we lived in Greenup County when my dad pastored a church there, and the hit-or-miss living away I did while I went to Georgetown College). Other than those stents of time, Ashland has been my home. I should be able to get around like second nature, but that’s just not how my getting-around gets around.

So, when I needed to make a trip to Print My Threads recently, I had to map it out on my GPS. I am fully aware of how ridiculous that is, and yet it was necessary. Cannonsburg and Flatwoods are a pretty good distance apart. Knowing that my internal GPS has never been fully functional, it would make sense that I’d follow the instructions from the digital voice coming through my speakers.

But, on this particular day, I wanted to go a different way. I didn’t want to go down Route. Five, as the all-knowing getter-arounder was telling me. I wanted to go down Roberts Drive, a less-busy path. When I didn’t make the first turn, she infamously announced that she was rerouting. When I passed up her second instruction, she tried to get me to make a U-turn. On the third “missed” direction, she instructed me to make a U-turn AND told me she was recalculating. I knew she and I would get in sync with the next direction I chose to ignore. But what happened was my internal GPS had a moment of revelation: I was headed to Westwood, not Flatwoods. It was at this moment that I Face-palmed myself. Why I would have thought it a good idea to override the GPS that I had sat in the driveway and carefully programmed is beyond me, but that’s what I did. I eventually made it to the shop to pick up the shirts I was going after, and all was well.

On the return trip, I decided I’d try it without GPS. I mean I was headed home, after all. I’m happy to report that I made it without one instance of having to turn around! I carefully watched for buildings I’d passed on the trek in. I remembered turns I’d had to make. I even chose a different route once I knew my bearings were 100% on-track, and I made it all the way home with no digital assistance. I decided I’d even stop for gas (before I got to the quarter-tank mark that my husband always tells me not to go below). I usually wait until someone is with me because, again … I just don’t love doing things on my own. I pulled into the gas station, filled up the tank and headed on home. Still zero turnarounds. I made it all the way from Flatwoods to Cannonsburg unassisted! Did I go the best route? The fastest route? The path with the least construction or roadblocks? The one that would make most sense to Ashland-natives or the digitized GPS lady inside my car? Not even close. But I think that was exactly the point of the journey.

   I remember from my middle school math days that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Ms. Hornbeck and Mrs. McDowell made sure we understood and could apply that theorem to things like not taking Roberts Dr. to go from Cannonsburg to Flatwoods. I “get it” in my mind. I know that there’s a line that is best to drive when trying to get to a T-shirt shop. There is a line of thinking that makes the most sense when trying to convince someone of something. There’s a line between right and wrong. Far too often I seem to get in my head that maybe my idea is OK, or I let some other outside force sway my thinking or my actions. I don’t follow the lines that I know exist when it comes to living life the way Jesus would have me to … and there are lots of little ways that those things creep into our lives.

It’s rarely big things we jump straight into when getting out of the lines that our loving Heavenly Father has set for us. We’re human, though, and can be so easily led out of line if we don’t keep our eyes focused — if we don’t study His Word, worship Him, and chat with and listen to Him regularly through prayer. Our paths can get crossed up, and our way can be turned about. We can so easily slip outside of what He has intended for our lives if we choose to go our own way and meander a path that isn’t His.

While the shortest distance between two points is for sure, 100% of the time, a straight line, this time around something else happened behind the scenes of this longer-than-necessary journey to Flatwoods. I got to hear a new song I’d never heard before — one that ended just as I pulled into the driveway at the end of taking the long way home. Not coincidentally, this song was about A LINE. Not in the sense of driving the straightest, most direct path home, but about aligning our thinking with God’s. It ended each chorus with “Teach me to align.” His ideas are always better than ours, and His will is always what we should seek. Isaiah 55:9 says it best: “… So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I didn’t mind my GPS, but I’ll strive to ALIGN myself to the idea that GPS: God’s Pathway is Superior. Keep teaching me to align myself to you. Your path is always best. I know I must frequently engage with this technology in the future (and am so thankful that it exists) but I also know that every time I program an address, I’ll be whispering a prayer that my journey is in proper alignment in ways far beyond the route I take to get where I’m going. Teach me to align.

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