Clarity is a good thing. It isn’t always easy, joyful, fun or necessarily pleasant.  It can even be awful. When truth presents itself, and the facts are rough, tough and not pretty, it is still, no matter what, ALWAYS a good thing. Why is that?

I learned this lesson very concretely one summer while on a road trip with my father.  “It’s the questions that you ask,”  he said, right out of the blue, after quite some miles of silence. He said it as casual as if he just picked up a cup of coffee and was about to drink it. He said it the way I wish you, could hear me say it, right now.  My dad was factual.

My dad played me like a harp. I had no idea what he meant. I asked, “What questions?”  He knew I was going to ask that.  He said, “The questions that change the direction of your life with their answers. The questions that make you who are. It’s where you draw a line in the sand. You will learn who you are through your questions.” My mind was already spinning these words around like a rock tumbler.  Sometimes this tumbling of thoughts and feelings are just a big lump of uncomfortable, ain’t it great, hot stickiness. Other times it just quietly moves behind the scenes of my life.

I look at what my tools are in my tool box, and I think part of it, is knowing what “yes” feels like and what “no” feels like. Not just in my mind but in my body as well. Some folks never have even thought about it.  Surprisingly, many people are confused about this.  Ask yourself questions. Silly ones, serious ones and some you already know the answer to. Just to see how it feels. Get your baseline established. Knowing this simple difference can unlock this clarity and understanding to these questions I believe.

Do you remember holding your baby after they were born? That was a YES! Chocolate is a yes, for me. Liver is a no. Disingenuous people are a no.  Synthetic chemicals hidden in essential oils… BIG NO. Unkind people…nope. That kiss from the right person…oh yeah, that’s a yes.  When LSU wins…BIG FREAKIN’ YES!   These yes’s and no’s make up lines of demarcation. You can feel them.  This is where the phrase, “gut feeling” comes to my mind.

We were on Old Route 66, headed up to Oatman, Arizona. My father was old school, he collected and restored cars and trucks…the kind you drive. We were in and old ’55 Studebaker E series. It was cherry red…with baffled red and white upholstery. It was his favorite toy. It was pretty. I loved being in it and on the road with him.

He was a guy’s, guy. A single dad, he struggled with having a daughter. He just didn’t know how. There was always a distance until the very end of his life, but he did the best he could.  I think he made a checklist of important things, which he felt that I needed to know as a young girl. What he shared were basics. Some were very harsh, but I’m glad I know them.    

He would break things down and unpack them for me. We would discuss them, debate them and pack them back up again, together. He was to the point. I valued that, then and now. The ability to be clear and about the facts is a skillset. I try to work this skill like a muscle to make it stronger. Warning! Processing in this way can and may make the people who don’t ask questions very uncomfortable. It has been mistaken as a form of rudeness to question with direct clarity.  As we drove and discussed these questions, I of course was questioned. This was when my love of road trips was birthed.

Our vacations were centered around driving through “Old Route 66”. We stopped at every historical sight, eating at every old diner and honky-tonk’ish restaurant, where the servers were waitresses, and they wore uniforms. We filled up the tank at every retro gas station, resulting in tons of postcards.  I developed a keen interest in the heyday of Route 66 and Americana.

Journeying the “Mother Road” together with my father, guiding, questioning and pointing the way helped connect the dots to the topography of my emotional/mental development.  This created a template for the emergence of my understanding. I have learned how to be a little more patient and kind to myself as the picture comes slowly into focus revealing this emerging clarity. I get twitchy when I don’t utilize tools in my mind.  I am grateful for God helping me along the way as this clarity appears. How can you make up your mind about your next step, without having some idea from the general direction of your clarity? How do you approach the questions put in front of you? This is like the words from the song from South Pacific, “…If you don’t have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?”

I know there are some people that are so fearful they do not ask themselves, or others any questions. Questions that, if unasked,  make a difference! Questions that someday you might ask…but is it possible it’s date of expiration is up? Could it be they fear the possibility of change? Who hasn’t danced with that before?

By ignoring this conversation, we risk being a side effect of our own life.  Some people live their whole lives being a side effect. However, do not to assume that all people process the same way or the same time. Some people could be fearfully hiding or strategically waiting. Some people may be distracted just by survival. All need to be respected and supported in their journey. These are the conversations we can have. We can choose to sow love instead of castigation. This is how we can change a mind or heart.

Recently my friend Jonathon Dunne posted a question in his writing for “Freedoms Disciple.” It also was seen on Lantern’s Facebook page, “What impact do YOU want to have on the world?” When I read that question, my mind was tickled by the potential answers.

This question could have come right out of my “Ol’ Man’s” mouth. It’s such a big question that at first, I had to walk around it for a bit and sit with a cup of coffee. This question brought with it that feeling when I figured the answer out it would give me great clarity! My excitement was building. The challenge is on! The questions I mentioned will come to us like this.  If we knew we could impact the world How would you want to do it? How do you want to be impacted? How do you want to approach these kinds of questions? I could tell that Jonathon knew the answer to this question for himself. He had clarity. I’m going to sit near this question and see what comes!

Remember the moment you knew something with great clarity? It has a crystalline quality about it. You could feel it. It was almost a tangible thing that you could touch with your fingers, you just “knew that you knew” something. One of my friends calls it “a God thing.”

One of my first moments of this kind of clarity was at a very young age when I knew that I always needed to be near the water.  I just knew.  I knew I was a mermaid long before Ariel.  I knew that this was a real important truth for me, even as a little girl. This truth still abides with me today.  Just like you, when you knew the moment when you were, in fact, going to start looking for a new job and leave the old one, when you knew that you needed to stop spending time with someone in particular. You probably have known several times in your life about something in this specific kind of way.  It is an attention getter. Sometimes there is even a strange synchronicity to it. I see this synergy, as Gods fingertips in the works.

We go through life doing what we think we are supposed to without much thought sometimes. We follow social templates.  Some people don’t even know how they like their eggs…Just ask. I know a woman who was 75 when she realized she had cooked eggs for her family most of her and all of their lifetime and truly didn’t even know how she liked her own eggs. She just ate eggs in whatever way they did. She had great fun finding her “yes” and her “no.” I believe knowing what your “yes” feels like and what your “no” feels like is one of the biggest tools that we have to gain clarity.

It’s about just participating in your life. We have choices! Sure, ignoring yourself is one of these choices. Maybe consider taking baby steps that can tippy-toe through and just simply stand next to being present with whatever your truth is.  Our process can be whatever we need it to be.

See what happens with just being present and connected to your truth. Sometimes just acknowledging truth, shifts our guts to be able to see more clearly and live more freely without as much fear. I like this vibe. I feel God moving in that place. It’s a fun and interesting journey to watch. I get the best seat in town.  I love watching how my life unfolds and how I am learning to progress with it.

This leads me to something really interesting. While I was lost on the “Mother Road” with you writing, I was also waiting for a client to arrive for a meeting. This is that synchronicity I spoke about. I’m telling you that I’m still in awe. My client was late, so I just kept writing. He arrived, and all was well. He noticed the picture connected to this writing and asked about it. I shared the story, and he had a strange look on his face. He next quizzed me on the year and make of the Studebaker truck.  He is a quiet man but seemed very interested. Finally, he asked if I wanted to know why he was late for our meeting.

My client told me a short story that even I had to sit back and do a double take. He said he was on the phone finalizing his purchase of a 1955 E Series Studebaker truck. I did what came naturally; I was more than amused. I recognized that this very thing I have been writing about WAS, IN FACT, HAPPENING!

I soaked this truth up and thought several things. One, he told me that this strange happening was validation to him that buying it was the right thing to do.  He was questioning this.

Two, I sat back and just felt God’s fingertips all over this. I just got out of the way and watched it unfold before me.  I asked my client if he thought he would keep it or if he wished to sell it. He told me that he was just an “ol’ junkyard dog” and happened to come across this 1955 Studebaker truck; he did not go looking for it.  

He said he wanted to sell it to me when he restored her. He said I had an emotional attachment to this and there were obviously bigger hands at work here. I still am taken aback that God brought this back around for me. The ‘55 Studebaker that my father left me and wanted me to have represented so many lessons that he went out of his way to make sure that I not only knew but were ingrained within my heart.  

That truck never made its way to my driveway, but it touched me deeply that my dad wanted me to have it enough to make provisions for that.  However, having this specific truck find its way to me, today– the way it did, is more than a coincidence to me.

For others, it’s an interesting lining up of events, facts, and people. For me, it was God spinning those plates, and my Dad handing them to him.

Breathing deep with you, J.D. Jackson