"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
June 01, 2015
Just Like the GPS
by Kathryn H. Kidd

When we were between church meetings on Sunday, Fluffy realized that he hadn’t seen one of the ladies in our congregation for a week or two. She is conspicuous because she parks in the handicapped spot next to us, and she hadn’t been there for quite some time. He wondered where she was.

In the process of wondering about her, he looked up the lady’s address and saw that she lived in a townhouse complex only a few blocks away from the church. Then his meeting started, so he put his tablet on his knee and looked up to watch what was happening.

Suddenly a disembodied computerized voice said, “Proceed 400 feet straight ahead. Then turn right.” The noise boomed out in the quiet chapel. Fluffy slammed the tablet shut and put it in his suit coat pocket, no doubt hoping that the men in his high priests group did not know that his tablet was the source of the sound. Doubtless his innocent look fooled no one.

The tablet was quiet for the rest of the lesson. It was only after he got me securely tucked into the car after church that the tablet helpfully chirped, “Proceed 400 feet straight ahead. Then turn right.”

I almost jumped through the roof. I had not realized there was anyone besides Fluffy and me in the car. It was a real shocker to learn otherwise.

As coincidence would have it, the voice instructed us to head in the direction we were going anyway. So we did as the voice instructed and proceeded 400 feet straight ahead. Then we turned right. Once we left the parking lot, the voice continued to instruct us. “Continue for a quarter of a mile. Then turn right.”

Once again, the voice’s instructions dovetailed our own route. We reached the street where the townhouse complex was located where the lady in our ward lived. Then we turned right.

Our helpful voice had new instructions for us. They were instructions that would have taken us to the doorstep of the woman in our ward, but they would not have taken us to our house. “Turn left at the next intersection,” the voice said.

We reached the next stop sign, and then continued to go straight.

This did not upset the GPS unit in the slightest. The disembodied voice said, “Go 600 feet straight, and then turn left.”

Actually, we had been planning to do that anyway, so that is what we did. As soon as we turned left, the disembodied voice said, “Proceed to the next stop sign and then turn left.” We proceeded to the next stop sign and immediately turned right.

The disembodied voice did not get angry. She (for she definitely was a “she”) did not exhibit any signs of stress in her voice whatsoever. There was no impatience. She was not rolling her eyes, if she had eyes to roll. She simply said, “Turn left at the next intersection.” This was a good thing. Turning left at the next intersection was exactly what we were planning to do.

If the disembodied voice showed any excitement that we obeyed her this time, she did not betray that excitement. She simply said, “Proceed straight for 100 feet, and then turn left.” We did obey the first half of the instructions, but that was where we parted ways. We turned right, and off we went toward home.

No matter how much farther we got from the home of the woman in our ward, the GPS unit was never deterred. “Turn left at the next intersection,” were always the instructions that were given. There was always the same degree of patience. There was never annoyance. There was never any sense of judgment.

If we had gone to San Francisco, the GPS system would have continued trying to get us back to that townhouse without ever losing her patience even once.

“Of course,” I hear you saying. “It’s a stupid GPS system! What do you think it is — your mother-in-law?”

Nevertheless, no matter how far afield we went, the GPS just quietly recalculated what it would take for us to get back “home.” That was all the GPS cared about — getting us back home.

Finally Fluffy said, “Isn’t this a little bit the way God is? He never judges us. He doesn’t sit up there rolling His eyes and getting annoyed. Whenever we make stupid mistakes and go astray, He just figures out what it will take to get us back to Him. He’ll put things in our way — lifesavers, so to speak, that we can grab onto, if we want to.

“If we don’t grab onto those lifesavers — if we go in another direction — he recalculates our course and puts other people there who can help us if we choose to take the help. And if we don’t take that help, he’ll recalculate and start all over. There’s never judgment. There’s never a rolled eye. He just loves us and wants us to get back to Him.”

That made sense to me. Our God may not be a God of infinite patience (the people in Noah’s time discovered that first-hand), but He certainly has a long rope. He certainly has put up with a lot from me in my sixty-five years. I have been a royal pain in the neck!

Next time your GPS comes on, telling you to turn right when you want to turn left, think of that other non-judgmental Voice, telling you to come home. Sometimes it may be more fun to go astray, but the way home will always be more fulfilling in the end.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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