“Stay off the Santiago Canyon Road!” Most everyone told me that right after I moved to California. “It’s full of twists and turns. You’ll never be able to navigate it.” This wasn’t a testimony to my poor driving abilities. I came from an area of the country so flat you could practically see the curvature of the earth. My friends understandably worried about my safety on this treacherous mountain road. For over a year I headed their advice, even rerouting myself when my GPS told me it was the quickest way to my destination.
Then one night as a friend and I were on our way home, she suggested we take the Santiago Canyon Road. It was cheaper and just as fast as the tollway. “But…” I began, then trailed off. I was going to say “What if I can’t navigate it? What if my car goes off the road, down an embankment and into a fiery crash?” I stifled my thoughts because at that moment, I wasn’t sure what I feared most: the turns of the road or admitting my fear to my friend.
The Santiago Canyon Road loomed ahead, my fear rising to fever pitch but at this point, I was committed. For the rest of the drive, I didn’t keep up my side of the conversation. As my friend chattered on, I kept my hands grasped firmly on the wheel, my eyes on the road scanning for switchbacks and steep drop offs with my thoughts convincing me, “Yes, Myra, you can do this.”
The road is only twelve miles long, that I knew. Well into the trip, I glanced down at my odometer. Another thought began to take hold, “When is it going to get bad?” The road was curvy, but not dangerously so. It had some changes in elevation, but nothing too severe. And though it was only one lane in each direction, there wasn’t much traffic on it. Each bend was banked nicely, eliminating the need to ride the brake. I’d been on far worse and lived to tell the tale.
As we neared the end, I relaxed, but only slightly. Another thought caused me to shutter. How many times have I let a misconception rule my life? Where else have I allowed what others said to cloud the truth? Unfortunately, we allow the voices of ourselves and others to prevent us from fully investigating the truth. Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs or prejudices. Because of this we suffer. The best thing we can do to live a healthy, joyous life is to replace misconceptions with facts. Learn everything you can before you make a value judgment.
Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion. He wants us to constantly challenge our personal “The way I see things” beliefs. Do you dismiss certain people as lost causes or do you see them as valuable in their own right? Experiencing something first hand and allowing your decisions to be made on what you have investigated will open up new doors, bring about a deeper sense of self-esteem and allow us to overcome your fears. We become active participants in our lives.
I no longer fear the Santiago Canyon Road. When my GPS tells me it is the quickest way to get where I am going, I’m quick to take it. My experience has also taught me to investigate rather than fear. For that’s when my misconceptions are replaced with truth.