My friend, Joanie, has had a GPS device in her car for several years. It has turn-by-turn directions and the voice Joanie picked for those directions she dubbed “Dottie.” Dottie announces each turn on the way and she sounds like a tough cookie, but a calm and collected one. Deep and throaty, all business, she interrupts our conversations as if she’s tired of putting up with them. She'll get her word in without apology. “At the next stop light turn right onto Richmond Drive, then..” When Joanie decides to ignore Dottie and go another way, Dottie says in a condescending tone that clearly registers disgust and tired tolerance. “Re-cal’-cu-la-ting.”
Joanie and I find that expression and the way it is voiced amusing. It’s as if Dottie is a real person who is tired of her job, especially when the driver doesn’t follow her directions. We know that Dottie will eventually get us to where we're going no matter how many times we ignore her directions. That is comforting.
I was thinking this morning how similar this is to our personal wanderings through each day. I believe we all have an inner voice, a kind of GPS. Call it conscience, call it common sense, call it discretion, intuition, whatever you call it, we have it. It is reliable. Depending on the kind of person we are, or have become, we obey or ignore the guidance system we’re born with. No matter how much or little we pay attention, it is always there.
The way I regard my inner voice, the messages she sends are not in words so much as in nudges. I’ll start out the door and feel a nudge. “Have you remembered to turn out the bathroom light? Is anything left cooking on the stove? How about that grocery list?” With me, it’s all the way from deciding to change lanes on the freeway to what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. All through my days my inner voice speaks. She is so close to me, she is me, the me God made me to be.
In our daily lives we sometimes mistake other voices for our own. They can tempt us into doing the wrong thing, or the right thing at the wrong time. They misguide us because we think their suggestions are our own. The fractional moment when we should be doing the right thing we do the wrong, all because we have mistaken the prompting of some other voice as our own. When that happens we need to recalculate.
I ask myself on a day like this, What am I going to do that will bring me closer to comfort and satisfaction at the end of my day? What will inspire me tomorrow morning to be glad that I did the right thing today? Today I plan to read to my friend, Suzy, and intersperse the reading with conversation. I love to hear about Suzy’s path through the same years I was following my own. "Let's see," I'll say, "about the time you and Bob were tooling around the country in your RV Wally and I were dragging a little one-wheel trailer behind us carrying our camping goods and stopping at camp grounds on our way from the east coast to the Pacific." After Suzy today I expect to pick up Katie from the first day on her new job and hear how it went. That should be fun. The two of us will probably end the day as usual in our beds watching an old black and white movie.