• Jennie Root • December 8, 2020 •
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 where I could guide him–and he hated me for it.
Hmph! That’s what parents are for, I say!
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 facing 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!” Then 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.
“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 fails and you can’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.”
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
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. It feels like they just keep coming.
But, do I have God in the passengers seat coaching me and cheerleading me each step of the way?
If you are one of those “cute” Christians you are probably giving me an, “Oh yes! You do! Praise you, Jesus.”
But, I ain’t a “cute” Christian.
I am a thirteenth hour Christian. I am ‘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. I often wonder if being a “cute” Christian is even real. Maybe, inside, we’re all struggling more than we like to admit.
But, maybe God is in the passenger 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 cheerlead and coach us…through us – the body…but we are too busy? Too consumed with our own lives? Too selfish to carry someone else’s burdens? Wait, ’ burdens’ is too Christian-ese. We all want to carry one another’s burdens; we all want to be Christlike.
But, can you hear one more story about someone’s stressful marriage? Or someone’s debt? Or someone’s divorce? Or someone’s custody battle? Or someone’s experience with death? Or someone’s horrible job? Or someone’s troubled child?
Even when you don’t want to, maybe you come along side and be the hands, feet, and ears of 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 escape it. You have to come through it, and I will be here while you do. You are going to be just fine”.
We need one another because all of us, even the “cute” Christians, want someone sitting in the passenger seat next to them. Someone to say out loud, “I see you. I hear you”, and remind us that God does too.
Well, my son survived that intersection, and you will survive your intersection too. Maybe I can be your passenger someday, and I hope that you can be mine 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”.
I was okay with that.