“So, tell me what you understand of what I just said?” my driving instructor (who actually has the patience of a saint) asked me for the third time.
“Ummmm….” I thought about it. I had heard his instruction, I knew what he had said, but my brain had ceased working; I had heard sound, but no meaning. After a long pause, I had to admit that I had understood absolutely nothing of the past ten minutes. I had nothing. Literally nothing.
Unwilling, or perhaps simply unable, to bring himself to ask me a fourth time, my driving instructor proceeded with the lesson. “I am sure actually doing the manoeuvre will help you understand,” he said, rather optimistically. I proceeded to follow his instructions and complete the manoeuvre correctly. “Great!” he enthuses, “So, tell me what you just did?”
“Yeah, sorry… I’ve got nothing!” I told him truthfully.
“I just couldn’t think!” “I drew a complete blank!”
“Sounds like you had ‘brain fog’,” my friend said to me as I recounted the above tale to her. My experience in my lesson had been far beyond normal tiredness or confusion; my brain, like a stalled engine (to push the driving imagery some more), had simply cut out. “Yes,” she told me, “brain fog can be brought on by medical conditions such as ME, but also by stress and can really interfere with your ability to think. Have you been more stressed or fatigued lately?” she asked me, knowingly. The answer to both was, of course, a very big YES! In fact, in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, I have been feeling both for quite some time. We had a chat, she made me laugh, and I felt a lot better.
Our conversation stayed with me, however, and while I may have been experiencing the temporary effects of fatigue and stress the other day, it also made me ponder a little more deeply the more long-term effects of the current situation that we are in. I realised that my ‘foggy feelings’ ran a lot deeper than one bad driving lesson or in fact one bad week.
“Come to me, all who are weary… and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
Fog is listed as one of the most dangerous driving hazards because – often heaviest at night and in the morning – it limits visibility to such an extent that collisions are very likely. For over six months now we have been in the midst of a global pandemic and I’m tired, I’m really tired. And like driving on a road on a foggy day – I feel my visibility is limited.
Constantly surrounded by the underlying worry that permeates each day, reacting to each changing situation and supporting my bewildered children who are struggling to understand the latest change or new restriction, it’s becoming increasingly hard to see the road ahead. It’s easy to lose perspective, it is easy to get lost and it’s so very easy to crash!
So what do we do when surrounded by the ‘fog’ of our situation? What do we do when we are fatigued, fearful and just worn down?
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
The very good advice for driving in fog is simple: ‘don’t, if you can avoid it’. If only we had such simple options during the weather of life! For the unavoidable foggy journeys, travellers are advised to slow down and turn on their fog lights.
It turns out that studying for my hazard perception test also makes for excellent spiritual direction!
“Slow down and turn on the lights”.
I’m reminded anew about the need to just stop and be still, and to spend time with the Lord in prayer and with the scriptures. By allowing the word of God to speak personally into my life, I know I often find myself guided, encouraged and renewed.
In prayer, is also where I find myself reminded most clearly that I am not alone in all of this; I am reminded that God is working in – not only me – but also in this current situation. In Jesus we find a light that can penetrate the darkness, shine in all situations and reach to all corners. It is a light that never dims and never goes out and, when we live by the light of Christ, the path is illuminated before us, our visibility clears and we see the way forward and can move onwards in hope.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
So, if you’re reading this, and you’re tired or worried, or simply fed up. My advice; the advice that I’ve taken myself, is simply:
“Slow down and turn on the lights.”
We can’t avoid driving in this particular storm and we can’t avoid the ‘fog’ of this current crisis, but in prayer and with Jesus’s help we can be strengthened, we can be encouraged, and we can be renewed in Him.
Our faith is a fog light in the storm. It illuminates the path before us and guides us, even when we feel ourselves lost, when we can’t see clearly, when our vision dims.
Jesus is the light of the world and by allowing the light of Christ to guide us, not only do we avoid crashing ourselves, but we can also be a light to others, a guide and a support to them and, together, with God’s grace, we can weather this particular storm until it passes.