Moab was everything we didn’t know to expect. We stood amazed at Arches and Canyonlands, found the most delicious eateries that catered to our many food allergies, and enjoyed several rainbow sightings and surrounding scenery. It always strikes me as odd that we love rainbows, but often begrudge the rain. I imagine it is because we view it as an inconvenience instead of the means to an end. We obviously experienced a fair share of rain during our time in Utah.
During one storm, it was as if the sky was showing off, and we were enjoying the show. The park had thinned out as the storm persisted, and we didn’t know that while we were experiencing the storm, there was a mudslide happening. As Texans, we understand flash flooding, but mudslides are next level, so that danger was not on our radar until a family we were traveling with sent us a text about trees in the road on the way to our hotel. It did not seem real until we drove out of the park and into town where our eyes took in the power of a mudslide.
The evidence of the storm remained visible for a few days. Because of our limited experience and understanding of mudslides, it did not occur to us that to think about devastation outside the area where we were staying. After a few additional days in Moab, we hit the road for our long drive to Denver to catch our flight. Imagine our surprise when we learned, after entering Colorado, that the highway was closed because of a massive mudslide. We hadn’t planned to drive two plus hours out of the way, but we had no other choice. We had to take the detour to get to our destination.
Unexpected detours are not usually on anyone’s itinerary–be it a travel itinerary or a life plan. The diagnosis that stops time or personal crisis that disrupts daily life are not high on anyone’s list. It is not instinctive to anticipate or appreciate the storms of life, but like the rainbow, these unexpected detours are often the means to an end. Yes, they are hard. Yes, they require major adjustments. Yes, they cause pain and frustration. Yes, they require an alternate route, but they do not leave us without the option to hope for what is at the end of the struggle and suffering.
Brokenness is an unexpected detour in our lives. We all experience it in one form or another because it is simply unavoidable. However, it is the means to an alternate route—maybe one that is better, more beautiful, and one we would not have taken unless we were forced. Although we view brokenness as an end, I think we would be wise to reframe the way we think because it is really the beginning of a new opportunity.
Without faith, my days of feeling broken and discarded would have culminated in hopelessness. Because of the gift of faith, that is not my story. I believe that God has a distinct purpose for brokenness. Our decisions and obedience play a role in how we live out our purpose. Sometimes we suffer a broken heart, and other times we may be completely leveled by a broken promise. That place—and I believe you know it as well as I do—is where we are repurposed if we choose to surrender.
When I experienced the unexpected detour of divorce, I felt like a total failure. I was ashamed of my new marital status and all that accompanied the title single mom. The weight of my own shame was overwhelming, so I could not see a repurposing happening in the middle of that storm. My alternate route was to work on healing my wounded heart and establishing a strong family identity with my two children. I had no idea I would meet my forever love on that alternate route.
While we wrestle to see beauty amidst our unexpected detours, God bears witness to endless possibilities. That is his character. He really does create beautiful things from the ashes of our mistakes, failures, sickness, pain, and screw-ups. If you feel unhinged, discarded, or weary from the alternate route you find yourself on, reframe the way you view the storm. We don’t enjoy the rainbow without the rain, but we do enjoy the rainbow once the rain stops. Your storm will come to an end.
Unexpected detours are fertile soil. Broken Vessels was born from a season of layered loss and alternate routes in my life. I found myself face down on my bedroom floor not knowing if I could take another breath on my own. My marriage was falling apart, and it stirred an awakening of childhood trauma. This was the season where the cracks in my vessel gave way to a complete shattering. I needed Jesus like I had never realized before. He sustained me. He extended kindness toward me. He offered healing.
Our lives were meant to tell the story of the hope God offers his children. All his children. Instead of covering up the unexpected detours in our lives, we can share the hope we found on the alternate route. I challenge you to allow God to reframe the way you have looked at your losses and challenges. He can flip the script, give you a breakthrough, and restore your hope. I am living proof!
My family has a different view of mudslides; we will approach storms in the mountains with a fresh understanding. What could be viewed as a setback is often the fertile ground for a new perspective. When you encounter an unexpected detour, remember it is just the means to an end. Look for new discoveries along the alternate route. I bet you will be able to trade your agony for joy at some point.
My first solo book project, Broken Vessels, releases on Friday, November 5th. Cue the confetti! Four years ago, I had the honor of being part of a team of writers I admire that created A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions That Meet You in Your Everyday Mess. While I am still celebrating that bookiversary [thank you, #incourage], I am equally excited to share this new book with you! It is a six-week journey through brokenness, but please don’t let that scare you. I can assure you that EVERYONE has an area where they have been broken–it is really what makes us human. The book is a guide through understanding and reframing brokenness. It is personal, reflective, and hope-filled, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Also, isn’t the cover adorable?
Stay tuned for the preorder announcement because we have some fun swag for the first 50 preorders. My email subscribers have first dibs on preorders, so if you are not already on my email list, you can sign up here. #smartmove