So Songbird has her driver’s permit. Gray hairs abound.
It’s not because she’s a bad driver; she’s an inexperienced one. And it’s not for her lack of trying to get more time behind the wheel. I just can’t pry my fearful fingers away from it long enough to give her access.
When I teach the little people I realize just how hard it is to drive. Riding shotgun is like, well, staring down the barrel of one. Certain death. Perhaps it’s the sense of powerlessness that makes me long for the real brake instead of that imaginary one I press in the dashboard. Maybe teaching reveals all that’s involved in driving. Songbird thought she was going to climb in, sync her phone, slap on a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, and yell, “Road trip!” Then we told her she’s got to check the rearview mirror, side mirrors, and keep her eyes on the road…simultaneously. She’s got to drive for herself and every other clueless teen with a permit, the distracted, the elderly, all the overworked mothers, and the pet owner cuddling his pooch. She’s got to stay in the middle of the lane unless she’s changing lanes and then go quickly yet not too fast and remember to turn off her signal and listen to dad—no, to mom—while ignoring her siblings arguing in the backseat. Then she’s got to pretend my eyes aren’t reflecting her own inner terror.
This, that, and the other. Simultaneously.
Okay. Deep breath. She’s not going to kill us all even though she almost clipped the parked car or gave us all whiplash when she stopped short or likes to sing, talk, and drive (yes, simultaneously). One day, she’ll accept that parallel parking is a necessary evil, not every car comes equipped with a camera and a sensor, and curbs exist for a good reason. When I come to terms with my passenger status I’ll feel better. The brake and the accelerator are under Songbird’s foot for a reason: she’s the one behind the wheel.
Basically, I’m not in control. Ouch.
I should be used to this “We’re not going to make it!” out-of-control feeling, and not because this is my second trip on the rollercoaster ride of student drivers. We survived Crusader, and we’ll survive Songbird. What challenges me is that Proverbs 31 Woman dear Solomon so glowingly described. Reading that passage makes me feel that not only can I do, have, and make it all, I should. And share pictures of it all as I go along, despite the fact that my voicemail still plays the Christmas message.
Now, I don’t know if the Virtuous Woman has it in for me and she truly did it all at once, as many overachievers profess, or if that passage represents seasons of her life, as wannabes like me tell themselves. But I don’t think it matters. It’s all about knowing Who girds that woman with strength, motivates her to help the poor, clothes her family in linen and purple, gives her wisdom and kindness, guides her as she watches over her family and eschews idleness, and gives her the fruit of her hands. Who she praises and fears. Who’s driving the car.
Yes, like my faithful, virtuous friend from Proverbs, “I can do all through Christ Who strengthens me.” But Paul said something to the Philippians—and you and me—before that: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11, 12) In whatever state I am, which is wild and woolly. Abounding and suffering need, not or. Simultaneously. When I’m abounding in writing opportunities, I’m suffering the lack of time to get it all done. When I’m in need of comfort, I’m abounding in the grace of my Comforter. When life is full of things to do, people to see, and places to go, I hunger for peace, quiet, and stability. In the car and out of it. Gripping the wheel and clutching the handle of the passenger’s door. In triumph and in trial. Everywhere and in all things.
Are you feeling out of control? Like your life is beyond you? Then you’re on the right road. We’re out of control because we serve the God who is. You can’t grip the wheel while you clutch the passenger door, but you can hold onto Christ who supplies your all in all—the opportunity, the trial, and the inspiration and strength to grasp it or overcome it.