No Parking

photo courtesy of Lisa Yvette Pearson

photo courtesy of Lisa Yvette Pearson

Trying to find a parking space in New York City is maddening.

How maddening is it?

Imagine running late for work on the day of a presentation, stubbing your toe, ripping your tights, and spilling your coffee on your favorite silk blouse in less than ten minutes. No coffee, no tights, and no shirt and you have to go NOW. You have to drive because your presentation is pretty big. After thirty minutes, you roll up to an open space and see the garage doors with NO PARKING painted on. You want to hit somebody, right? Go back home and cry? Both? Yes, it's that maddening. 

There are so many cars on the road that parking spaces are in high demand. Some parking lots charge more than $10 per hour. Confusing parking signs and overzealous meter maids are also a threat to your wallet. If you read the signs wrong, you may even return to find your car towed. 

And that is why taxis and cars-for-hire (Lyft, Uber, etc.) win big in New York and metropolitan cities alike: Not everyone has time to park. Their purpose is to help move the people to each destination with as little hoopla as possible or as much hoopla needed for the lesson to stick.

Just like Jesus did.

He did it with hoopla, though. Lots of it. He came. He spent three years with the disciples and He left. Assignment done. He even told them: 

“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you." John 16:4-7 (MSG)

Oftentimes, God moves us in the same way. Meet/pick up person. Complete assignment within that season. Drop off/Move on. Sometimes the assignments are coinciding – you both have delivered a lesson, message, promotion.

But we get confused. And we get attached. Then disappointed. We meet people and we want to park when the assignment is to help move or be moved from one place/stage to another. We want the ride to be longer than required. But it can't be because the purpose has been completed. 

This is the way we have to sometimes approach relationships in our lives. It sounds harsh, I know. And obviously, we have people in our lives who will be there ‘til the end. But not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to park and chill.

Understanding the Seasons

How will I know who's who? You have to read the signs.

In New York City, No Parking Anytime means you’re temporarily allowed to sit in the space for a short while, while you load or unload your passenger. You may even chat for awhile as the engine idles, but you surely may not leave the vehicle unattended. You may not even like the person, but your assignment is your assignment. Have you ever noticed that some drivers barely say hello? They just pick up the fare at the chosen pick up location and go to the destination. If they do speak, and you’re receptive that’s cool. But that’s all it is. That’s one clue.

Then there are signs like No Parking from 7 am to 8:30 am. You know from early on that this is a seasonal assignment. You may work together on that book or work assignment or focus/betterment group. When that’s over, it’s possible that a friendship will form, but it’s possible that it won’t. You have to be okay with not being invited to the wedding. The season is for a set time and place only. On the off hours, you’ll be parked improperly and it will cost you.

Once we have ascertained the nature of a relationship, it lessens the angst of moving on.

Why do I feel this way?

The reason why we sometimes experience disappointment or abandonment when separating from another person is that abandonment issues aside, we have not accepted seasonal appointments as a rule, rather than the exception. Can you imagine an Uber driver picking you up, but when you got to the airport, you wanted him to stay and walk you to the gate? It sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

The bottom line is we cross paths and assignments for a purpose: to help move one another to new levels by teaching, mentoring, correcting, encouraging, and ultimately sharing the love of Christ to one another in our actions. And hopefully, they would (even if subconciously) pay it forward. 

When you meet new people in a new environment, as the conversation flows, it will soon be evident whether you can help one another or not . But before you do that - it is wise to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in this.

No Stopping, Ma'am

Why? Because there is the No Stopping sign that will sometimes appear while searching. You can slow the car down where you might hear the request, and point them in the right direction, but you cannot stop.

"Well, the Lord said to love thy neighbor." He did. But sometimes, He will tell you to drive right by that neighbor.

Some of the people you meet are not your assignment. There are times when I connected to great people and God said NOPE. Some He showed me, some I never knew why. 

God protects all His children. He may know who is too abrasive for whom. Or that there will be enabling. Or that the help being offered is to incur favor later. Or that the assignment is with someone else. Or that one of you may cause the other harm. And sometimes, we are simply not a good match.

We all have assignments on this Earth. They are divinely interconnected to the people we come in contact with. My sisters and brothers in Christ, sometimes (like Jesus) you’re not supposed to park, but just slow down long enough to pick up or drop off your passengers.

Knowing how to pray and discern the difference will save you time, effort, and heartache in the long run.

If you need help with getting your prayer life together, get a free copy of the How to Pray E-Book HERE.