My name is Elizabeth Steinocher, and I am directionally inept. This statement rings very true and honest for my reality.
Previously I made reference to my inability to navigate when I told of how I got lost on the way to the mall, in a town I have lived in for about 25 years. I use landmarks instead of street names, which as it turns out does not seem to always prove quite as reliable. I remember in college my freshman year I lived on the ninth floor of my dorm. Four elevators led up to my floor. Without fail, every time I got off of the elevator I had no idea if I needed to go right or left to get to my dorm room. I notoriously walked in circles just to get home for the entirety of that year.
But alas, the world does not seem to accept my superior logic of landmarks and continues to rely on such derivative systems cardinal directions to move through our world. And I must function within this world. So in order to move about society I frequently find myself using my iPhone navigation or some other form of technology to get me where I need to be.
Now, one would think that since I still double check my hand for the ‘L’ before turning right or left, I would completely trust any help given to me. Especially a system that who knows how many satellites, technicians, coders, systems, ect make it their work to update and provide the best information to the consumer.
But, no. I instead deviate from the blue line frequently. Whether I am in a place I know well or a new place, I rarely fully follow the directions I am given by my GPS. I also get lost or go in circles a lot.
This past summer when I traveled to New York City with my sister I spent a good chunk of time and data wandering the city while Anna attended a conference. Emboldened as this was my third time to the big apple and wanting to appear as a local, I was determined to use my GPS as little as possible.
One morning I woke up, to map out my day. I decided I would trek from Hell’s Kitchen to Lenox Hill for breakfast. Then catch the tram to Roosevelt Island to take in the waterfront, ride the subway to explore an exhibit I was ecstatic to see at the MET and then regroup in Central Park to plot my afternoon. I would accomplish this with as little reliance on my phone as possible. I tried to memorize the map, took screen shots in case I needed to consult, and started my journey.
Now, again of all people I should trust the map. I should trust what I know knows more than I do especially in a very muggy Manhattan July. I consulted the map before leaving and walked out of that hotel with more confidence and bravado than Kobe Bryant.
My walk to breakfast plotted about 45 minutes. I walked outside and checked my hand to ensure I turned right, and began to walk. About 25 minutes in, I panicked fearing I’d gone the completely wrong direction. With some hesitation, after all my pride told me I could get from point a to point b alone, I looked at my phone. I think I may have physically jumped up and down with glee as I realized I had gone the correct way.
I made it to breakfast five minutes faster than the pesky computer said I would. Take that technology. As I sat people watching in NYC drinking my coffee I felt I could do anything. I nonchalantly glanced at my phone and began to wander towards the tram ahead of schedule, something Steinocher’s rarely say.
Having not spent a lot of time in this area, every new turn or shift of the sun caught my attention. New places infatuate me as my eyes shot from one sign to a person to the sounds and smells and the way the light shifts on the sides of different buildings. Taken by my surroundings I lost track of where I had been. A twisted tree growing on a street caught my eye. I knew going over to look more closely meant leaving my path, but I had to see. Plus I had a safety net, my phone. With music playing in my earbuds I wandered to more closely observe the tree. Then like a dog in Up I saw a building and a mural and a street sign ect. Before I knew it, I had zero idea where I stood in relation to where I planned to go.
Now, I do not regret the offshoot. What I do regret is not checking my phones battery. When I went to figure out how to get back on my path I realized my podcasts and music had eaten up my battery. My safety net was almost depleted and my journey had just begun.
Fear pulsed through me as I stood lost, alone and almost without a phone. You see, even though I did not want to trust my phone, I knew I needed it. I needed it to navigate. Had I simply listened to and trusted my phone, I would’ve known where I was and how to get to where I was going.
My pride and distrust led me down a path I hadn’t planned. How often in life do we treat God this way? We consult Him in the morning and check off the box. We tell ourselves we trust Him, but we don’t listen. Or we listen to His guidance and direction, but believe we know better.
God should be more trusted than our navigation systems. When it doesn’t make sense or we think we know better, when we say left but He says right. Go right. We, myself included, must learn to trust God’s path. We must stay on His blue line. He sees all of the directions.
The good news for us, even when we don’t He will always recalculate and puts us back onto our path. Even better news, God’s battery doesn’t run out like our phones.
On my unexpected adventure within an adventure I had to suck up my pride. I found a Starbucks and charged my phone. Then for the rest of that day, I turned on my GPS and I mostly followed what it had to say. Mostly.