Because you don’t always need Google Maps

There are certain pieces of technology that I honestly don’t know how I lived without many moons ago.

Especially Google Maps.

I have to admit that I’m not always the most directionally savvy person. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten significantly better over the years, but I think that a lot of that has to do with getting lost while running (you can learn your way around roads pretty easily if you get turned around in them a few times) and the prevalence of Google Maps (which is truly a Godsend).

Lately, though, I’ve relied on Google Maps less and less. I’ve lived in Orange County for a little more than a year now, and I can finally navigate my way around the area without using Siri’s voice (or whoever’s voice talks on Google Maps) for guidance. If you’re thinking that I should have been able to do that sooner than a year or so in, well I challenge you to move out here on your own and magically know which route is best and fastest and will get you exactly where you need to go at the time you need to be there. If you’re able to do that, please be my best friend, and I will learn your ways.

It felt nice to finish the proposal. Plus, I knew froyo was in my future.

Last week, I was in Salt Lake City for most of the week for work, and I’m certainly not very familiar with the area (except for where the nearest Chick-fil-A and froyo place were from the hotel). On our final day there, my coworker and I had some time to kill before we needed to be at the airport, so I just started driving us around the area in our rental car (after we got froyo, of course) so that we could enjoy all of the scenery that we hadn’t gotten to see while we were holed up in a conference room all week without much exposure to daylight. (It was rainy and kind of miserable outside, so we weren’t really missing out on much, anyway.)

I wasn’t using Google Maps for any of this—I was simply driving wherever I thought looked interesting. At some point, though, I said aloud that it would be really cool if I eventually got us to the airport without any help from the voice on the phone. Sure, there were road signs for me to follow, but it was still something that was going to be a bit more challenging than usual.

I’m proud to admit that I not only got us to the airport, but I also got us to the rental car return place without any use of Google Maps. ALL OF THE EMOJI PRAISE HANDS!

The following night, my good friend Amanda and I drove down to San Diego to see a John Crist comedy show—he’s hilarious, by the way—and something interesting happened on the drive back to the OC. First of all, it started pouring rain IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. We aren’t used to that out here. But the actual interesting event on that drive was the highway patrol car that pulled out in front of us and started swerving back and forth across all of the lanes. Apparently this is a thing.

Thankfully, Amanda knew what was happening, because I had zero clue. The cops do this to slow down traffic either simply to prevent congestion or to protect the cars from something up ahead, such as a wreck or stalled vehicle. The whole time it’s happening, you’re required to stay behind the patrol car and not pass it until its flashing lights are off and it’s driving normally in one lane again. Even though it’s super confusing and frustrating, it’s actually for the safety of everyone.

And, as Amanda pointed out, sometimes you simply need to be slowed down in life in order to avoid something that could be a bit detrimental for you.

Amanda’s really wise. I hop in donation bins. It’s a balanced friendship.

There are many occasions when it’s really good to be able to do things all by yourself—like make it to the airport rental car place without Google Maps or carry all of your groceries from your car in one trip (I have this down to an art). Independence is a good quality. But there are times when that independence isn’t necessarily going to benefit you, especially if you’re stubborn about it (like I can often be), and you need people like the highway patrol officers to help you slow down a bit to keep you from potential harm.

I tend to go pretty hard in sports and in life, and it’s only been recently that I’ve realized (well, with the help of Amanda bringing it to my attention) just how rarely I consider my well-being or put it before much of anything else. It’s definitely one of those self-improvement areas I need to work on some more. After all, flag football usually shouldn’t be a sport in which you get more than one concussion.

I love people, and I love reminding them that they matter and are valued and loved. But shouldn’t I be treating myself the same way? If I’m called to love others as I love myself but am not actually showing myself the love and grace I aim to extend to others, that’s not a good thing. Whether physically or at the heart level, it’s important to take care of yourself.

I guess sometimes it’s OK—and probably actually more than OK—to slow down a little and even to let someone else remind you to slow down. You might not always require Google Maps to get you where you need to be, but you might need a little extra help to ensure that you get there in one piece, even if that means that it takes a little longer than you anticipated.

Because you’re worth the extra time, and you’re worth the extra love and grace that you can give yourself.

Because life isn’t one big game of capture the flag

There are moments in life when you realize that what you’re trying to find might cause you to lose focus of the wonderful things all around you.

Even during a game of capture the flag.

On Saturday night, the FCA volleyball interns I’ve been working with all summer invited me to play capture the flag with a big group of people. It’s one of those games that I really like but don’t ever play, so I was looking forward to it. Plus, those girls are all so fun and have such beautiful hearts, and you just feel better when you’re around them.

I’ve been pumping iron and stuff.

We played at one of the local college campuses, so there was a lot of ground to cover to try to find the other’s team’s flag. Most of us weren’t super familiar with the campus, and it became even more challenging once it got dark. I wandered off on my own to try to be a hero for my team, and I made the mistake of leaving my phone with one of the girls who wasn’t playing.

As it turns out, I’m still slightly directionally challenged and rely on Google Maps for way too much in life.

I started running because I wanted to make up as much ground as possible in my quest for the other team’s flag. After a while of searching all throughout the other side of the campus, though, I had to stop looking so much for the flag and start looking for the right way to get back to home base, instead. By this time, the sun had gone to sleep long ago, and I couldn’t see much. Somehow I ended up on the main streets and way on the outskirts of campus. I had zero clue where I was, I didn’t recognize any of the street signs, and there were no landmarks in sight to give me the slightest inkling of navigation help.

I had gotten so caught up in not being able to find the flag that I had gotten completely lost in the entire process.

Thankfully, I stopped some guy who suddenly appeared on the street (he appeared to be safe, and I’m confident in my abilities to kick someone’s a$* when necessary) and had him consult the Google so that I could find the right direction to run. I eventually made it to where I needed to be, but it was a much longer process than I had originally hoped or ever intended.

You know, kind of like my dating life.

I think trying to date in this day and age can be quite similar to a game of capture the flag—you search and search so hard for something that sometimes feels like it’s impossible to find. People keep telling you that “the right guy is out there” and that you just need to be patient and do more of this and more of that to find him. But it’s easy to get so frustrated during that searching that you end up feeling lost and almost hopeless at times.

The way people meet and fall in love has changed in so many ways than how it used to happen years ago, but that’s just part of the society in which we live now. One of my friends had mentioned someone she had heard of recently, which resulted in me meeting with a matchmaker one day last week. Think of the movie Hitch, and it’s a similar concept. It actually sounded pretty interesting and maybe even effective, but then she told me what the costs were for either a three-month contract or a six-month contract, and I had the same reaction that Elle Woods had when Vivian Kensington introduced herself as Warner’s fiancée.

I’m sorry. I just hallucinated. What?

Needless to say, I won’t be part of the next Albert Brennaman/Allegra Cole success story. I’m still trying to have high hopes for my dream of meeting someone unexpectedly and out of the blue, like me being hit in the face with a football or frisbee at a park or beach, and the guy runs over to check to make sure that I’m OK, and sparks fly.

A girl can dream.

Perhaps one day I’ll surprise you with a picture of me with a fella at the beach. Until then, here’s a selfie.

I don’t know how I’ll meet someone, but I do know that I don’t want to be so caught up in trying to find him that I get completely lost. There’s so much life to live, and there’s so much love to give others. I want my focus to remain on being thankful for those things and those people already in my life and pursue them. It turns out that life isn’t one big game of capture the flag—there are so many people in this world who need love and need to know that they are valued. Do I want to fall in love with my person and be loved unconditionally by him? Absolutely. But I can’t stop my life entirely to go searching for that one flag that might not be ready for me to find yet.

I had prayed for a miracle when I was lost during that game of capture the flag, and God sent me someone to help when there was literally no other human walking around in sight. And I know that, if it’s part of His plan for me not to be single forever and to forget about the guy I wish were still a part of my life, He’ll send me someone when it seems like there’s literally no one out there for me (which it feels like much of the time).

Whatever it is you’re seeking in life—whether it’s a relationship or new job or place to live or a multitude of other things—I hope that you eventually are able to capture it. But I also hope that you are still able to appreciate and enjoy what you already have in your life and show your people how much you care for them.

Because, unlike flags that are tough to find, you don’t have to go searching very far to let them know that they’re loved.