This is a post that I wrote for our church blog.
We all find ourselves at intersections in life; but this is unlike one of those spiritual intersections. Read along as I go for a leisurely drive with my middle son to the intersection and get a snippet of what it can be like if we are the hands and feet of God.
I have five sons, of my own; And, I have had to teach and practice driving with four of those five sons, thus far (number five is still too young to drive, thank God).
So, essentially to say that I am a saint. Who knew!
My third son has a bit of anxiety. Because of this, he has to prepare and plan for everything…or, he avoids what causes him anxiety, entirely.
Driving was, indeed, a source of anxiety for him and I knew it. It worried me that he might find himself in a high anxiety situation that might result in a tragic car accident. So, I decided to put my son in a high anxiety situation, myself, so that I could guide him–and he hated me for it.
Hmph! That’s what parents are for, I say!
HEADING OUT OF TOWN
We got in the car and headed out of town. We took a left out of our road, down through the valley, and then turned right onto Snyder Road. It was after we turned onto Snyder Road that he realized what I had done to him. I was made aware by his hyperventilating, white knuckles and proclamations of great hatred for me (he actually loves me a lot–except when I force him into situations of great stress).
If you aren’t familiar with Snyder Road, it is a road that connects an old winding highway to a new contemporary highway by way of going over a small hill. We approached from the old highway side and ended up face down the opposite side of the hill at the intersection of the new, very busy, contemporary highway.
“Why did you make me go this way?” He bit. “I am not going to do it. I’m not”
“Dude (I call my kids dudes), there is no way of getting out of it. You can’t go backwards. You ARE going to do it…and, you are going to be fine. I am right next to you and I will walk you through it every step of the way”
There was a lot of yelling and I had to finally yell, STOP IT! And, remind him, again, that he was going to be just fine.
Yes, the highway was super busy. Yes, we had about six cars lined up behind us; but, I walked him through it. And, yes, he was going to have to turn left, crossing both lanes of traffic.
“You probably have a lot of adrenaline rushing right about now. You have to take some deep cleansing breaths to get that moving. Just pause. You do not have to turn left until you are ready…” I said.
WHAT OTHERS THINK CANNOT MATTER
“But, what about all of those people behind me?”
“Those people don’t matter. They aren’t going to pay for your car repairs if you get in a wreck. Even if they start honking at you, you pull out when YOU want to pull out and when you know that you are safe; You get this spot for however long you want. Breath.”
“If all else failed and you couldn’t find a break, you can always turn right; but we aren’t going to do that this time. I want you to feel how long it could take to find a safe opening to turn. You can do this.” I continued.
More cars began to line up behind us and I could sense my sons stress level increase.
“Calm…nothing behind you matters right now. Just watch the traffic in front of you. You’ve got this. You can do this. Just watch for an opening. That’s all that matters. And, when you feel safe–and only when you feel safe–go.”
And, then I waited. I breathed deep and released any tension that might be felt by my son…and, trusted that he would use good judgement.
And, he did. He pulled out onto the highway and we headed out of town.
God does that to us, doesn’t he?
He allows us to be in stressful situations that will grow us as individuals and as Christians. I feel like God puts me in those type of situations all of the time. When I start listing off all of the trials that I have had to endure in my lifetime, even I am a bit amazed at the vast breadth of my experiences. And, they just keep coming, it feels like.
But, do I have God in the passengers seat coaching me and cheer leading me each step of the way?
LIFE IS HARD
Oh, if you are one of those cute Christians you are probably giving me an “Oh yes! I do! Praise you, Jesus”
But, I ain’t a cute Christian.
I am a thirteenth hour Christian; a ‘rode hard and put away wet’ Christian; I am a Christian who hangs on, hears nothing, but might get dropped that pinnacle scripture in that thirteenth hour which allows me to ‘just survive’ another day.
It’s hard, man.
And, I don’t think reading my Bible more or memorizing more scriptures or going to church more will ever make me a cute Christian. Is that even real, I am always wondering (being a cute Christian, that is).
But, maybe God is in the passengers seat, just not like I was with my son. Maybe God is supposed to be in the passengers seat through you.
Maybe, God wants to cheer lead and coach us…through us…but, we are too busy. Too consumed with our own lives. Too selfish to carry someone else’s burdens.
IT HAS TO BE MORE THAN TALK
–wait,’ burdens’ is too Christian-eze. We all want to carry one anothers burdens; we all want to be Christlike.
But, Can you hear one more story about someone’s stressful marriage? Or someones debt; Divorce; Custody battle; Experience with death and grief; An oppressive job; Or, someone’s troubled child?
Can you come along side and be the surrogate for Jesus enough to say, “You got this. I am right here with you. Take a deep breath. You are in a stressful situation and you are not going to come out of it; You have to come through it and I will be here while you do. I promise, You are going to be just fine”.
We need one another because not all of us were called to be cute Christians. Some of us are like me. And, we need you.
Well, my son survived the intersection; and you will survive your intersection, too. I hope that I can be for you what I was for my son, someday and I hope that you can be my passenger, sometime, too.
“See, you did it. Now, remember how that felt because you will find yourself in another stressful situation like that and you have to be able to regulate your anxiety so that you make a safe decision. I am proud of you. You did it. You overcame!”
“Thanks, mom”, he said, “But, I am still mad at you”.
And, I was okay with that.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience that you may be perfect and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2