It happened fast. The first unexpected detour on our grand RV trip to New England. I usually pride myself on a bit of internal GPS, having a strong sense of where I am and where I’m headed. But pride often cometh before the fall.

When heading out of town, I usually travel up I-85, which takes us to both sets of grandparents, several clients, and other frequent destinations. So as we were headed out of town yesterday, my driving muscle-memory automatically led us up I-85 instead of our planned route up I-77.

Ten minutes later, that internal GPS sent off an alarm that something was amiss, and then slight panic set in. Should we turn around? Try for a cut-through? Pull over to try to figure things out? We decided to consult Siri, and she recommended we take an alternate route that would eventually put us back onto I-77.

We eventually made it, after an interesting trip up highway 52 that took us through a town called Cana, VA. We weren’t sure whether the town held an annual Labor Day city-wide junk sale, or if this was just commonplace for that town, but it was as if the entire place had been transformed into an enormous flea market.  A stretch of about 3 miles was packed with random booths, tents, and vendors selling old gas station signs, wicker furniture, iced lemonade, and much, much more.  As we snaked our way through the town, I was torn between emotions of “this is so cool, where are we?” and “we cannot at all be on the fastest route, where are we?”

I’m struck with the irony of how much this is like a financial plan. We map out a direct route using software, known variables, and a lot of experience. But inevitably once we embark on the journey it never goes according to plan.

Jobs change. Another child is added. Our health becomes an issue. Investments don’t turn out like we expect. We often hope that things would carry on according to plan in a nice, straight line. But God’s plans are more like the mountain ranges we were traveling over yesterday. Up, then down. Down, then up. My temptation is to focus so much on the ups and downs, that I miss the view of the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains to either side of me.

My other temptation is to get frustrated that my plan is off course. If I had just paid closer to attention, we would have arrived a bit earlier. If I had just turned around instead of following Siri, we would have shaved off a little time. If I had just invested a bit more aggressively, I could be retired right now. If I had saved more for college, things wouldn’t be so stressful right now.

I’m not sure what those frustration temptations are for you, but my encouragement is the same for you as it is for me. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the detours. Because a detour-free life is 1) more boring and 2) impossible. Life is defined in many ways by those detours, and how we respond to them. Whether it’s in faith, in laughter at our own mistakes, or in frustration that things aren’t as they should be.

How many more detours will we hit on this RV trip? Likely more than a few. How will I respond to them when things don’t go as planned? That’s the real challenge that lies ahead!