The kids slept soundly as we chugged into the city. I say “chugged” because our new-to-us car has a few character distinctives. A few quirks, rattles and clunks. My least favorite is its very touchy clutch that tricks me into stalling on slowdowns. BUT I shan’t complain. This cheap little “simply-to-get-us-there” vehicle has halved our gas bill! That’s right. So she can make as much noise as she wants to.
Although I’m glad to be saving gas money, I really miss driving our Ford Escape. For 11 years we’ve had that SUV. She’s been part of our life here longer than pretty much anyone else! I loved that above-the-traffic viewpoint. And the comfy seats. And the roomy interior. And the cruise control. And the sound system. And the cup holders. And the smooth ride. And a speedometer that works. And the automatic transmission. Ah glorious car.
Yet at the same time, I LOVE the zoom-zoom control of driving this little manual transmission car. It’s like being part of a beast. A vital machine component. Firing in time, as part of the team. My brain engaged. My muscles in tension. My heart rate up.
As I changed gears over and over in the city traffic, I saw a metaphor of my life.
In life, I have seasons in automatic. Seasons in cruise-control. And seasons of fully engaged, heart-rate up, takes-every-ounce-of-energy-I’ve-got manual living.
Right now I’m in a manual transmission time. Everything takes effort and attention. My medical treatment. My food restrictions. Our little kids. Our finances. Our places in our church body. Our roles in our community. It feels like everything is requiring me to have my brain engaged fully. Changing gears over and over. Each turn, purposeful. Each leg of the drive, exhausting.
I was feeling exhausted. The kids were waking up crying and I was in a part of the city I’ve never driven before. The GPS said to turn right but the traffic sign said I-5 north. And I wanted a totally different freeway. I had to make a quick call. I threw on my blinker, gear-changed down to third, and zipped over. As I eased into the exit lane, the reflection of a quickly-breaking vehicle filled my rear-view mirror.
Oh dear. I feel terrible. I am not a rude driver! I do not cut people off! This is not my normal way! Please forgive me!
I wish I had a giant bumper sticker: “Warning: Not used to manual driving. Unjustifiable rookie mistakes currently in progress.”
For the car. And for my life.
I’ve totally done that to people. Emotionally, relationally, socially. Made decisions for myself that has resulted in cutting someone else off. I’m sur e I’ve appeared reckless. I’m sure I’ve appeared rude.
But I’m not reckless. I’m not careless. I’m not malicious. I’m just in over my head. I’m just trying to get used to this season of manual driving. Trying to stay in my lane. Trying to be cautious of other lives. Some days, all my energies are taken just in trying not to stall out. Sigh. Warning: Not used to manual living. Unjustifiable rookie mistakes currently in progress.
If I cut you off in traffic… or in life recently… please forgive me. I’m still getting used to this manual life season.
_ _ _
I’m totally amazed at her reaction. The lady I cut off, didn’t honk. She didn’t throw up her hands. She didn’t even look mad. She looked totally peaceful. Graceful. Gracious.
She reminds me of all the amazing people in my life who are pouring out grace, mercy, forgiveness and love to me and everyone around them.
I want to be like that. I want my knee-jerk reaction to be Love. I want to be ready to make room for people who need grace. That is the revolutionary cry of God’s Kingdom. Love is THE most powerful force. Love changes everything. So grateful for Yahweh’s transforming Love. It is essential that I operate in that Love. I am not His if I don’t. What a deep and good challenge.
Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. (1 Peter 4:8 The Message)
The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love – so you can’t know him if you don’t love. (1 John 4:8 The Message)