After the chaos of our morning routine is the biggest butt-kicking of my day. The daily commute. I’m in my 3rd year of driving my kids to school, 30 minutes away. This part of my day has the power to suck the very last tiny breath of life out of me with one too many red lights, or by the power of God, it can also be a great blessing to me. As I journey through the concrete jungle to the school of our choice (a whole other blog post), God has really shown me Himself and that is my joy.
I drive what should be 15 minutes but is actually 30-45 minutes to school. 30+/- minutes back. 30 minutes to school for pick up. 30 minutes back. That’s about two hours or so. In Bay Area traffic. Every single weekday. I used to mainly think of those two hours as a life-sucking drain. When it comes to sustaining congested traffic, I am a weak person, and for a while, I could do nothing more after the morning commute than drink my cold coffee and finish it off with a nap. I used to think of those crazy drivers on the road with me as reckless, selfish, road hogs. I had other names for them too, but my babies started repeating my words, so I have had to keep it in check. Thus, my thoughts stayed in my head, or escaped my mouth in a whisper….
But God. <3.
God has consistently opened my eyes. Transformed me by the renewing of my mind.
As I drive.
Some days it is through spiritual music or spiritual talk radio. Some days it is through a kind driver, who saw my blinker and let me into his lane. Some days it is the sunrise. Or the clouds over the hills. Or even the words of those three little passengers in the back. My sons.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
My precious boys. Strapped in and potentially forced to be my captive audience. This is my opportunity with them. To do something good. Lasting. Maybe even eternal. Is there such a thing as doing something that lasts beyond myself? Eternally? It is my hope.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is His faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25
Mo sits in the same back row as his brothers. In the middle. We don’t spread out in the minivan. I needed Mo’s help back when Wally and Jeremiah were smaller. Think rear-facing carseat with crying baby. And whining toddler. We’ve kept it the same ever since. My oldest boy, Mo, has grown in responsibility, care, and leadership, just by sitting in the middle of his two little brothers on our daily commute. Something that will go with him into manhood.
Mo does his reading homework on the commute. He reads to his brothers out loud. This simple act alone is eternal. The boys’ interaction during this morning ritual is impacting who they become as men. I coach them on being good listeners, and being verbally responsive in conversation.
Once, a mentor mom described how she simultaneously got something done, while teaching her kids a few things. She said she would dictate or narrate out loud what she was doing. I took this lesson into the car with me.
I’ve begun to “be transformed by the renewing of my mind” out loud, so the boys could see that even though I am a sinful human, I can change into who God wants me to be. All within the timespan of a daily commute. (Wish I could say it was instantaneous, but those drivers on the road!!!)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to know what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
I don’t want my kids to remember me as a raging lunatic behind the wheel of a car. But there are those mornings. A few days ago we were running very late. I kept getting into the car, remembering one last thing I needed. I got out to get something three times. We just got later and later… We were doomed.
I hate being late. I hate it when my kids are late to school. They miss out on things. They have to go to the office and get a late slip. And I have to go with them. Which means I have to park in the parking lot and get out. Unbuckle kids from carseats. etc. Nevermind that I might not have brushed my teeth or hair yet. And on the days we have other places to go after drop-off, being late to school means being late to those things too.
All the boys sit up close in the front back row. Within earshot of me.
I begin thinking out loud:
Stopped at a red light. “Dang it. Another red light.” Stopped at the next light. “Can we get any more red lights? Geez! Here we go! We are so late! Ok. Thank you God for the red light. Thank you that we are late. I’m thanking you Lord that we are late because You tell us to thank You in all circumstances. So thank You that we are late. I hate being late! But I will trust that You are always in control, and that You are for me, and that You love me. Even when I am late. Please forgive me for not being more responsible. For dillydallying last night, staying up and waking up late, and for spending too much time on my phone this morning instead of getting my family and myself ready to leave. Thank You Father for being patient with me. Forgive me for insisting on getting out of the car a third time to get my morning coffee. I could have waited. They have coffee at my next destination. Lord, thank you for this reliable car. Thank you for a great school to go to. Thanks for our health and for keeping us safe on the road.” “OOOOOh!” Mo chimes in, “Thank you for the green light!” “Woohooo!” I zoom through. Wally adds, “thank you for the electrical wires!” (he follows them while we drive). Baby joins in with his own word of thanks. I continue, “Thank you that I didn’t forget to wear lipstick today. You know I feel better when I have on lipstick.” Someone cuts in front of me. Proceeds to drive very slow. “AAArgh. Thank you for the (*&(*^% driver. Help me to release my angst against them. Help me, Lord!“ So my thoughts go like that sometimes. And I have to start over. It is easier the 2nd time around to transform myself by the renewing of my mind. And the transforming thing is an ongoing struggle.
The great thing about that morning was my mind did change. And that matters to God. Everything that matters to God matters to me. I turned to talking to my sons about good things, we told stories, jokes, sang songs… back to Happy Lueck Family outing… and the heavy traffic didn’t get me down. Were we late? Only one minute late. True Story! The kids ran in and I didn’t have to get out and go to the school office with them. Whew!
I would love to hear of your car ride escapades. How does God help you survive a daily commute?