How do I handle the detours?

No left turn. That’s all the sign says. Nothing else. Just… No left turn.

I honestly struggled with that sign for a few minutes before leaving the parking lot. I know what it said. I know what it meant. But, for some stupid reason, that sign was bothering me.

I work in St. Augustine about 3-4 days a week, depending on the weather. On my way in, there’s a certain store I pass. I like to keep a cooler full of water in my van and some snacks to maintain this figure. This store has become a routine stop for me. It has a turning lane off the highway, it’s on the right side of the road, I can pull in and out with minimal effort or time wasted. Perfect.

The trick is that it’s on a corner, no access to the parking lot from the highway. Right turn onto a side road, quick right turn onto another side road then right into the parking lot. It’s weird because the side road is split with a divider right at the parking lot entrance. To leave, I have to make a short right, then a quick U-turn onto the road. It’s actually easier than I made that sound.

After my last visit, on the way out, there was a new sign standing at the exit. No left turn. Big sign. Red and white. The sign post was wrapped in red like a barber pole. Couldn’t miss it if I wanted to. Just standing there. Mocking me. Interfering with my routine. Dang it.

I know what it meant, but the knucklehead in me rose up for a moment.

It’s not a left turn, it’s a right, then a U-turn. If they wanted me to leave from the other side of the parking lot, it should have said “no right turn.” Then a “no U-turn” sign on the divider… Ten feet away. Technically, I can still roll out this way. Technically, they didn’t communicate very well. Technically, I am not turning left. It’s the difference between leaving from right here and driving ALL THE WAY AROUND THE BUILDING!

In my highly efficient nature, the detour around the building was eternity. I was looking right at a perfectly functional exit. I had used that exit for the last year or so. Why was it suddenly an issue? Why would they disrupt my perfect escape route? Why the heck was this bothering me so much?

I don’t like being told “no.” I am pretty sure there is a trigger in most men that reacts whenever we are told “no.” Something about someone claiming the right to tell us what we can or can’t do sets off some of the stupid juice in our brain, and pushes us to make bad decisions. That stupid juice is apparently a natural head hardener. The more we produce, the thicker our skulls get. The thicker the skull gets, the more juice we produce. It’s a vicious circle.

So here I sit. About four years into this new man transformation, arguing with myself over a street sign. According to Joel and Kathy, once a man makes the decision to become Christlike, and demands it from himself, there begins a three year journey to a complete transformation. It takes about three years of consistently making positive decisions, and consciously changing your mind, for it to be a permanent and natural part of who you are. Three years. Normal guys. So, that’s about four for me.

There are so many parts of my life that have changed. But, there are still plenty that haven’t. I will never get to stand on planet earth and claim to have reached the perfection I am chasing. I will probably struggle with some of this for the rest of my life. But, there’s enough that has changed, to make my wife think the journey was worth it. She believes in it. She believed enough to support me in writing the 21 Days to Save My Family book. She told me how proud she was.

I have a note from my wife, from 2010, before the marriage intensive. In this note, she informs me that she doesn’t believe any of it. She is convinced that all this marriage counseling is doing for me, is teaching me some manners. She says I am just worried about how the divorce will look to my friends and family. That I don’t even care about her. She said, “even if the changes are real, I don’t want any part of them. Go be a man somewhere else. I am done.”

That, my friends, was from the happiest, most wonderful lady in the world. She was absolutely sick of me. This transformation that I am telling you about, did not happen quick. I was frustrated, at first, when she refused to respond to anything. Flowers, candy, even the weekly gift on her dresser… She refused to respond to anything. She was honestly done with me. It took three years to convince her that these changes were real. Four years, total, for her to reassure me that she was never leaving again.

For you guys who are trying to restore your marriage, do not give up. There will be bumps in the road, detours, stupid road signs that interfere with you. But, keep going. Become that better man. Just do better than you did yesterday. Learn to love her in spite of her response. Don’t let the time or attitude affect you. Keep focusing on becoming that Christlike man she desperately needs. You never know how soon the change will happen. Tomorrow might be the day she suddenly believes and reconnects.

As for the sign problem. It took about four seconds longer than usual to get out of that parking lot. A little longer than before, but the results were essentially the same. I can live with it. And from right here, that four years it took to win her heart back seem like the same four second. Yeah. Four really tough seconds, but just a memory now.

Keep moving. She is worth it.

If you need some help with this, here’s two solid resources.
21 Days to Save My Family

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