Thursday, August 2, 2012

Learning to Like the Road

I remember the way I felt when I first got my driver's license. Driving home after that nerve-wracking test drive with a stranger and his clipboard, I felt victorious. The open road was before me.  I would head home, drop off my mom and then head to pick up some friends and grab a slurpee at 7-11. In my town, there wasn't a lot else one could do with a new driver's license but that blue raspberry slurpee tasted so good.

I'm sure the fun of being in the driver's seat lasted for at least a few months, but for as far back as I can remember I have been more than happy to be in the passenger seat. One of the best perks of being married has been that my husband absolutely loves to drive and so I can spend hours next to him, reading my book, entertaining the child or just falling in and out of a motion-induced stupor.  

However, this past week my son and I took a trip up to NY. Weeks before, I scoured the web looking for reasonable flights to no avail. So, we packed up the car, stocked it full of magic tree house audio books(to which my son is completely addicted) and a few movies thrown in for good measure, set the garmin for Scarsdale and hit the road. During the first hour I probably looked at the clock every 4 minutes. Maybe even every 3 minutes. And I kept thinking (and heavily sighing) to myself, "this is going to take forever!" I was dreading the car ride. Dreading being behind the wheel without someone to which to hand it off. Dreading the amount of time we'd waste trying to get to where we were going.

At this point, Josh was happily listening to his story about dinosaurs and I was hit with one of those moments. You know, the kind when you feel like God directly intervenes and just says "take a deep breath and try praying, why don't you?!" Right. Sometimes I am so discouraged by how long it can take me to realize that this should be the first step in problem solving and not the last. So, I began to pray. To just sit in the presence of God. I-85 is a good road for this. Little traffic and almost nothing at which to look. The child was happily absorbed in his book and so with little interruption I just rested. And somewhere, in the midst of that rest, I began to be hopeful. Hopeful that this trip, this long car ride I had been dreading for months, could be enjoyable in itself. That, for once, I could enjoy where I am rather than focus on where I am heading.

And somewhere in the realization that I might actually enjoy the ride to NY came this deep knowledge that this is usually how I operate. Finding it so hard to enjoy where I am, to live in the now and not constantly looking to what is next. Maybe it's the planner in me that makes it hard to focus on enjoying the road when the destination seems to be the important element in the journey.  And maybe all the waiting I've had to do in the past three years with no discernable destination point has made it even harder to enjoy the process when I DO know where I'm heading with something.  Probably it's yet another form of control. What a shock.

So, sitting there behind the wheel, I relinquished that need to "get there." I stopped looking at the clock every 3 minutes. I stopped staring at the miles slowly decreasing on the gps. And I found myself smiling. Relaxed in a way I have never been on a car ride before. Enjoying the rare chance to sit quietly for hours at a time and not consider that a wasted morning. Still looking forward in a joyful and expectant way to the friends and family I would soon see, but being able to just like the road. To cherish the time with my son who will, in three short weeks, start kindergarten. To savor the quiet monotony of the interstate. To not, for once, be in a rush to get somewhere.

The unexpected side effect to this epiphany was the state of my soul. Rather than arriving full of stress and angst, rather than dreading traffic or being frustrated at potty stops, I just found myself with a big smile on my face.  More patient with my son, more calm on the road, generous toward the other drivers and infinitely more full of energy when we did arrive at our destination. 

It's yet another indication of God's love for me that at a time in our life when we are still waiting, still journeying in several areas, that God would so helpfully and graciously intervene with such a powerful lesson that I am confident will reverberate down through all the roads ahead but, most importantly, help me on this road I currently travel.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I am exactly the same with driving. So thankful that Scott loves to drive and rarely needs a back-up driver. It makes those long trips much more bearable! During the times when I have been obedient and faithful to stop and pray while on a long or longer road trip, it has always been beneficial and peace-inducing. It's as if it takes me an hour or two to work through all of the anxiety, worry, stress, fear, anger, and blah, blah, blah to get to the good stuff like enjoying God's presence and basking in His glory.