Our Stories

The Desert Road

We are driving on a long deserted stretch of road, with no one and nothing in sight except the tall red mesas and fragrant sagebrush. Dark rain clouds loom around us, heavy with the promise of rain, so longed for in the desert. I am thinking about all the things that have to get done once we get back from the “vacation” that left me exhausted- the new and disturbing problems in my family, my nephew’s bipolar disorder he refuses to treat and which makes him aggressive and scary to be around, my sister’s divorce, disputes with my brother’s in-laws, my mother’s visit to the hospital during our trip, the work waiting for me when I get back- I suppose it’s just daily stuff that goes through your mind. At the moment, it’s running a loop in my mind and I’m beginning to form a knot in my stomach that is making me feel nauseous.

We then hit a section of road work and have to ride the rumble strip. Suddenly, our dog, who is the best behaved traveler, so much so that you barely notice she’s in the car – is nearly in my lap, terrified, salivating and quaking all over with a glazed, somewhat crazed and faraway look in her eyes. We didn’t know she was terrified by the sound or feel of those road strips. I can’t calm her. After 15 minuses I try to ignore her and see if that will work. It still doesn’t calm her down. I thinking this is such a crazy, overblown reaction to something so small. After a half an hour I’m getting worried. She is hyperventilating and I’m terrified her heart will give out on her. It takes about an hour of calm soothing words and just quiet to calm her down- and that was just a minute of rumble strip.

Wow! I think to myself how inconsolably anxious she was, and wonder if God ever looks at me and my thoughts in the same way. I imagine myself with the same glazed look in my eyes just an hour ago, perhaps unaware of every comfort God was trying to send my way. Does my incessant worry appear irrational to him? My dog doesn’t have the intelligence to discern that the rumble strips wouldn’t really harm her. Am I just the same with all the worries in my life? I laugh inwardly at the comparison, thinking how silly I must look to God, worrying about things he has absolute control over. All the things I worry about are non-issues to him. Finances. No problem. Health. No problem. Death. No problem. Nothing is hard for God. He’s got a handle on all of it and will take care of it. It’s hard for me, because I hold on to the problems and all the negative emotions they create. None of these things has the power to hurt me, unless I give myself over to them, and to the irrational fears they create in me.

I do not want to be like my dog. I vow from then on, as a gentle rain begins to fall, to remember the look in my dog’s eyes, to remember my desperate desire to console her, and to try to never put God in the same position when it comes to dealing with me. It will be better to just let it go, and enjoy the rain.

m.b.