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Lessons from a Traffic Jam

Insights about life from being stuck in traffic.

Lessons from a traffic jam
Credit: Getty Images

The other day I was stuck in traffic for almost an hour. I still don’t know what caused the traffic jam. By the time we were moving again, the obstruction was long gone. But that long hour in one place wasn’t wasted. God used my circumstances to teach me a valuable lesson. 

As I sat there filling up with frustration and impatience, I tried to figure out any possible way I could get moving again. Once I accepted that I was good and truly stuck, I gave up on frustration and tried looking for information. If I couldn’t find a way around the snarl, perhaps just knowing why would help.

But try as I might, I couldn’t find the reason why.

Finally, I understood I’d just have to make the best of a bad situation. I turned off the car, rolled down the window and began to look around. I noticed things I’d never seen before, even though I drive that route fairly often. I saw businesses I’d never noticed before (and found a new coffee shop because of the experience). I actually had time to observe the people around me. I’m ashamed to admit that I normally view the cars around me as competition. Now I was seeing the people inside them.

The lady in front of me had two kids in the van with her. I watched her work so hard to keep them occupied and content. As I observed her actions, I began to pray for her. Running errands with small children is difficult enough without hitting a traffic jam.

The man to my left was older. He reached the make-the-best-of-a-bad-situation point a good while before I did. Because I had my window rolled down, I could hear his cell conversation and realized he was probably talking to his wife. I prayed for them too.

As I was praying, God showed me that this traffic jam was a physical representation of what sometimes happens in my life. 

When our son was deployed, I’d often felt stuck in the circumstances, that life had stopped moving. I couldn’t get any momentum going. Just frustration, impatience and anger. But when I stopped focusing on myself, I could see what was around me. I started to become a positive influence in the lives of those close to me. And I discovered things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Most important, I learned that when I get stopped in my tracks, I don’t always know the reason for the roadblock. But one thing I do know. God has a plan for everything that happens in our lives. We can rest in the truth that there’s a purpose to the movement–and to the pauses. 

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