Last January, after one of our big snowfalls, our neighbor a few doors down got stuck halfway down the alley. Our alley is never plowed, so it’s always an adventure getting to the road. So, after she tried multiple times to get going, another neighbor and I got to work. First, we used our shovels to get rid of the snow around tires. Then my other neighbor got some kitty litter and poured it in around the tires to give her a little traction.
And then, we pushed. My neighbor on one side of the back bumper, me (and my children) on the other. The driver started slowly and with a big push from us – she was off, the snow cleared and the kitty litter giving her some grip. She got enough acceleration to get her through.
As I narrowly avoided getting stuck in the snow of our alley this past week, I got to thinking how people, a bit like cars, often find ourselves stuck. Not stuck in snow but mired in complicated problems or challenges that seem impossible to get out of. Sometimes we just want more out of some part of our life. There’s lots of things that keep us stuck.
In those times, the same sorts of things that get a car moving can help get us unstuck, too. Often, there’s some things that we need to shovel out of the way. To get ourselves unstuck, we might need to get rid of behavior or actions that no longer seem to help. We can remove those ways of being that keep us from living and being the people God wants us to be.
And then, like some kitty litter on a slick road, we can add things to get us some traction to move in the right directions. We can pour in some practices of prayer, or naming the truth of things, listening or claiming responsibility.
When we are stuck, there’s one more lesson that I learned in my snowy alley – sometimes asking for help and turning to others is necessary. There are some things we just can’t do alone. It’s amazing what can be possible when we open ourselves up to others.
The prophets spoke often about God leading us through our stuck places and into new futures. They named how God prepares a road through rugged places and makes straight the paths. I can imagine if Isaiah lived in colder climate, he’d speak of God clearing the snow and salting the ice. After all, Isaiah declared God’s promise: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness.” (Isaiah 43:19).