From my front door to the office is 18 miles. Depending on the time of day you drive it, it can take anywhere from 33 minutes to over an hour. I’ve experienced the shortest, the longest, and all the in-betweens.
I typed 33 minutes because at this moment that’s the estimated drive time according to Google maps. I use it quite often in order to find the best route, particularly when my drive is at peak traffic times. That usually means driving home in the afternoon. Here’s a screen shot from my drive this past Tuesday.
I may be the only person (pretty sure I’m not) who looks at that ETA time (5:53) and says to myself, “I better at least get there by that time, or even better, beat it. Game On!” A little motivation and self-competition isn’t bad, right?
What I’ve found is they’re not bad until I create an emotional expectation. And that emotion can turn into thoughts like, “What the heck with these lights? Come ‘on, Manatee County! Fix these lights!” or “People, drive with purpose. Why are we driving 33MPH in a 45MPH zone? Get off my road! I’m on the clock, here!”
On my less emotionally competitive drives, I decide to pay attention and see what I can learn or enjoy. On Tuesday I decided to test Google rather than rant at the lights or other drivers. Often on the drive at any given time Google gives me options. Each option designates the difference of my remaining drive time by reading something like “2 minutes slower” or “Similar ETA.” But unless I look at the map, I have no idea all the options that I have mid-drive. On this 18-mile drive, there are dozens of options. I can ignore them and just follow the original route demanding that it live up to its promise to get me there the fastest, or I can consider other options may not be the fastest but could bring some other unexpected benefit worth the alternate route.
The test basically became how many minutes are lost if I ignore Google and go whatever route I want. Google’s directions aren’t the law; they are suggestions. And on this drive, I ignored them several times, probably three, just choosing whatever option I felt like. The end result-I arrived at the same time Google predicted, 5:53.
There are several possible takeaways from this scene. Go with whatever comes first. But mine is, I have options. Any man-made or man-given map uses the best data available. That doesn’t demand it be followed mindlessly. On the flipside, God’s map doesn’t always make sense or align with the best data nor sit well with my expectations. And that’s where I’ve learned the value of surrendering to options.
Google isn’t God. No other map reigns over his; they don’t have his data. His route will have me arriving at whatever time is best but only in the mind and spirit possible by choosing his option. It’s worth the test.