When Your Life Feels Like a Parked Car


When Your Life Feels Like a Parked Car

I’ve heard this phrase many times, and yet somehow it makes me smile every time. The thought of sitting behind the wheel expecting to go somewhere but never putting the gear in drive seems ridiculous, yet how many of us live our lives just like this? Do you feel like your life is in park?

Ever try to drive a parked car?

God wants to be the one in charge of the wheel and the One to give direction in our lives, but we have to do our part and step on the gas. It’s easy to often times make excuses and not do anything under the guise of “waiting.” God did not mean for us to live life in park.

This can come in the form of wanting or needing more education, yet being scared and never applying to a school or researching financial aid options. Maybe it’s longing for a new job or doing something different career-wise, yet never taking the steps to update a resume, job hunt, network, or take any risks pursuing a business dream. It could be the need to lose weight or getting your health back in order, yearning to travel or simply needing a break.

Perhaps it’s needing to design a new website for a business idea or upgrade equipment, clean your house, take a class, or call a family member. Maybe it’s desiring to be in a relationship, yet never asking that cute girl out–or saying yes or making yourself available to even go on a first date. Who knows? It could be the need to end a relationship but not knowing exactly how. Maybe it’s simply wanting to get a new haircut or to get organized, yet procrastinating on making the appointment or cleaning out that pesky garage or office. It’s so easy to recognize and complain about the problem yet ignore our part in the solution.

Sadly, I’ve been guilty of this more than once.

In one of these “parked” moments, I took myself out to coffee and had a date with myself.

There I was in the corner with a cup of java and a napkin. I walked out of that little solo date with a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I was thirty years old. Dubbing it my “30×30 list,” (READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE) I realized I had just written down my bucket list with an expiration date. And then I gave it to God.

All of it. Every dream, every item on that list ultimately came from Him. I decided to trust Him to not give me anything that wasn’t in His will, but I would begin taking action and tip toe towards the things in my heart. It has been amazing to watch how He aligned the opportunities to swim with dolphins, begin my master’s program, fly somewhere and back in one day, be financially debt free, run a 26.2 mile marathon, get my advanced scuba certification, learn to cook a holiday meal, go skydiving…and twenty-one more!

Fast forward, and I can stand here today and say that I was blessed to have crossed off 29 of the 30 items on that list. He gave me those dreams and desires, I just put my foot on the pedal and started moving.

My bills didn’t pay themselves off all by themselves, that lovely holiday meal didn’t cook itself, and the marathon finish line didn’t jump in front of me. My Maker lined it all up, but I had to do my part.

I look back at my 30×30 list and the 29 things on that list that I was blessed to have crossed off before turning 30 and I remember how miserable I was before I put pen to paper and had the courage to create it. I shutter to think of what might not have been if I had given in to all the fears and negative thoughts that threatened those deep down dreams. It’s downright frightening to think of where I might be and all  the blessings that I would’ve missed out on if I didn’t choose to get out of park. These are the thoughts I have to remember and keep in front of me when I want to hole up in a cave and retract to the safety of “park.”

It’s so tempting to disengage and back off when I’ve been hurt or stung, which is why it is so important to fight it.

Insecurities and fears can fly all around and threaten to permanently put me in park. Every now and then it’s worth asking the question: is life going in the direction you want it to or is it in park? Admittedly, there are way too many times where I’ve been guilty of staying in park while tirelessly complaining about the never-changing view. True, there are circumstances in life that happen beyond our control that can sideswipe us and make us need to put life in park and want to turn off the engine for good. Sometimes the fear of going in reverse is enough to keep us in park. But the view will never change and we’ll never get any closer to our desired destination if we never have the courage to put our life in drive.

Maybe it’s time to drive. We don’t always have to know the exact destination or the specific directions to begin moving. God very rarely gives us the entire road map of where we’re going. Sure, that would be easier and a lot less intimidating, but sometimes our Maker asks us to trust Him for directions while having the courage to first step on the gas. God never asks us to have it all together or to have all the answers. He sometimes doesn’t even ask us to do the driving. But He is the God of free-will and He gifts us the right to choose whether or not to turn on the ignition and get our lives out of park. He has big plans for us–good plans–but none of them include staying put and doing nothing. Ever try to drive a parked car? Do your part…get out of park.

Go ahead. Shift gears, get out of park, and get moving. Choose to partner with God on your dreams and do what you can do, then leave the rest up to Him.

Choose to not stand still letting everyone else pass you by on the road of life just because you don’t have all the answers or don’t know where you’re going. There is so much more to life that He has for us to enjoy while we’re waiting for a ring. Do something. Try something, even if it’s a little baby step. No need to go crazy and blaze 180 miles an hour, just get out of park with the intention of somehow moving forward. Who knows, you might just cruise right into the path of the one you’ve been waiting for.

And as for wrong turns and getting lost? That’s what U-turns were created for. Nothing wrong with slowing down and making a U-turn when necessary. Don’t worry, if you get lost or go in the wrong direction, God will find you. He knows where you’re at and how fast you need to go (He is the God of perfect timing, after all.) He’s pretty good at getting us back on track…but not if we stay in park.


Ashlee Bratton - Life Before The LotteryAshlee Bratton author of the book “Life Before The Lottery: Living Beyond The Bucket” is a professional photographer and freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration. Along with completing 29 of the 30 things on her 30×30 bucket list, her writing contributions include numerous publications such as Vail’s EAT magazine, creating a 56 page Visitor Guide for a mountain ski town, blogging and guest blogging, being featured in multiple newspapers and e-zines, and various other projects. Her next book, “Life Before Happily Ever After” is currently in the works and set to come out next year. Currently, she keeps her camera in hand in Southern Colorado, is a complete and total foodie, and takes plane rides for fun. She likes things that go.

  • Tumi

    I recently turned 26 and this piece just resonated with me so deeply! after reading, I found that I have been living a parked life and I am ready to move. I’ve just been waiting for things to just happen to me and now I am ready to make them happen. You have inspired me to make my own 30×30 list and I am so excited. God has a plan for me and I know its amazing and while I am waiting I will be moving 🙂

    Thank you always for the inspiration and motivation

    • We are so glad that this article has inspired you! Ashlee has encouraged the Lovely Calling Team to make a 30×30 list as well. She is a gifted writer. Thank you for commenting and letting us know how this article affected you. Have a beautiful day!

  • Hannah

    This post was just what I needed right now! My dad has been trying to encourage me to make something like this, and your post gave me the “vision” for it and inspired me to make my own 30×30 list. I now can’t wait to start crossing stuff off with God. 🙂 Thanks!