Main Menu

Commentary: Maneuvering room

Commentary: Maneuvering room

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Commentary: Maneuvering room

An e-Review Commentary by Lynette Sawyer / Nov. 20, 2008 {0942}

NOTE: A headshot of Sawyer is available at

A few years ago when I went to get my car out of the garage I found the garage door absolutely refused to cooperate. No matter what I tried, it refused to open up and let me out. Finally, I had to call someone to do something about it.

When the repairman arrived, he said: “It sure would be a lot safer if I had some maneuvering room. The car is right in the way of where I need to put my ladder, and you need to know that something could fall on the car. At least pull the car as far forward as possible.”

That didn’t sound very good. I studied the scene carefully and felt I could actually get the car out of his way. After all, it was a Volkswagen Rabbit parked in a two-car garage.

While the man went for his tool box I started the car, pulled it forward and to the left a little and then backed toward the right a few times (which did take a little effort since it was a “stick shift”). By the time he came back inside, my little Rabbit was safely parked crosswise in the garage. Later, when the garage door was working properly, I finished turning the car around and drove out forward.

If nothing else, I can tell people I turned my car around inside the garage. How many people can say that? I was able to do that only because I had some “maneuvering room.”

I guess the definition for that might be “a little extra space that provides an opportunity to make corrections or change directions.” Where else might we need that? Lots of places I’m sure — like the farm on which I grew up. When you plant crops, you don’t make the rows so close to the fence at the end that you have no room to turn around or you tear up some of the plants you have worked so hard to plant. Or if you want to rearrange your furniture or get rid of an old piece or bring in a new one, you need room to maneuver around corners to get in and out of doors that are just barely wide enough. I’m sure there are many more examples of times we need “space to maneuver.”

Recently, however, I heard the term used in a way that was a totally new concept to my mind. I went to church with a grandson and his family and as the pastor began talking about “our responsibility” to people with whom we come in contact, the need to find ways to help one another and make lives better and easier, he said this: “We need to think bigger; we need to expand our expectations. What we really need to do is to ask God for ‘maneuvering room.’ ”

Maneuvering room? Going back to my concept that perhaps that means “a little space that provides an opportunity to make corrections or change directions,” maybe it is more like turning my car around in the garage than one might think.

Sometimes we have very little space or very little opportunity to help people. We may only get one chance to help them see that we really do care if they are hurting and only one chance to simply be a friend — to listen and reach out. Sometimes we get to try several times, but often we have to shift gears in an effort to help.

Unlike turning the car around, though, we may never know if we make a difference. Sometimes we do. Either way, we still need to use whatever maneuvering room God gives us to make a difference. Who knows! Sometimes the person we try to help may turn all the way around and come out going forward.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Sawyer is a member of Belleview United Methodist Church in the North Central District of the Florida Conference and a regular columnist for her local newspaper.