I have just plunged headfirst into a brand new phase of mothering, one that has prompted a dramatic jumpstart to my prayer life and produced a cramp in my right leg: I'm teaching my 16–year–old to drive.
Two weeks ago, I buckled myself into the passenger seat and handed the keys to my firstborn son, Chase. "OK, Son, back out," I calmly instructed. (I admit I also added a few gentle reminders: "Watch the mirror! Careful of the door! Go slow! Look both ways for cars!") Sure, I was a little nervous, but even I had to admit everything was going along just fine. Then we pulled out of the driveway.
Within minutes, my palms were sweating, my heart pounding. My hands gripped whatever was within reach in an effort to restrain myself from grabbing the wheel of the car. I was relinquishing control of this two–ton vehicle to someone who may or may not be able to handle it.
I found myself biting my tongue so as not to completely unnerve Chase with every worried thought bombarding my mind: "too fast," "too slow," "too close," "too far." At regular ten–second intervals, my right leg involuntarily slammed on the imaginary passenger–side brake. Now, I'm a fully functioning adult who claims to operate mostly in the realm of sanity, yet even the knowledge that there is no braking mechanism on my side of the car couldn't keep me from trying to drive (or more to the point, stop) the car. My gut reaction was to be in control.
I think I'm like that with God sometimes. I say I've handed over the keys of my life to him, that he's in the driver's seat. But I find myself muttering orders and slamming on the brakes when I can't figure out exactly what he's doing or where he's taking me. In my heart, I know God's more than capable of guiding me through the thoroughfares of life; who better to drive the vehicle than the one who created it?
In the passenger seat with Chase, it didn't take me long to realize my son was going to be a very good driver. Thankfully he had not inherited my depth perception difficulties. He made prudent judgment calls and showed a real knack for maneuvering the monstrous minivan (the vehicle of every teenager's dreams). As we toured our neighborhood, I slowly began to relax a little and let Chase make the decisions about where we'd go next. I even crossed my legs once, taking my foot well away from the imaginary brake.
The idea that I have a child who is old enough to drive has caused me more than a little consternation. I mean the parents of 16–year–olds are … what's the word? Let's say "mature." While I'd just as soon not "mature" to the point where I truly enjoy eating vegetables and get excited about bagless vacuum cleaners, I am anxious to bring a little of this new maturity to my life with God. As I do, I think I'll try easing off the spiritual brakes and letting God take me for the journey of a lifetime.
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A Note from Elisa:
Following the delivery of the Ten Commandments, Moses offered some final instructions to the Israelites: "So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left" (Deut. 5:32). Bottom line, Mom: God knows where he's leading and at what pace we're to go. It's so–o–o tempting to forget this truth and replace it with our own best–laid plans. When driving the streets of life—with or without your 16–year–old—be sure to drive in the space and pace God leads.
Lisa Johnson is a writer, speaker, and recording artist from Southern California. Learn more about her at www.candykissesmuddyhugs.com.
Elisa Morgan is president of mops International. Call (800) 929–1287 or go to www.mops.org for information about a mops group in your area.
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