The children have been taking a keen interest in road signs, since I have been occasionally allowing them to sit in the front of the car. According to Joe, these signs really are quite clear:
no blue paint allowed,
For this and many other reasons I am not allowing him driving privileges just yet. He sees signs, but he cannot interpret them correctly. He knows there are dangers but he usually trusts me to get him from A to B. That is, as long as he can have Radio 1 or One Direction playing. And hot air blowing in his face. And his feet resting on the glove box. And lots of questions about levers, buttons and how many minutes until something happens. And a host of opinions only a parent can listen to. When that parent is in the mood for listening.
Clearly his passenger seat privileges are not automatic. But I learn a lot about him while he is showing a keen interest in engines, driving and making sense of his world.
Lily is another story. Lily is well aware of dangers, real and imagined and cannot believe she will ever be brave enough to take responsibility for a vehicle. She has decided she never wants to use a gear stick. She reads signs and understands the words. If she sees any of these, she is keen to make sure that I have too:
But she is a very interesting passenger for other reasons. Sitting next to me with the road ahead of both of us, she opens up more about aspects of her life, thinking and dreams. I learn a lot about her while she is showing a keen interest in facts, ideas and making sense of her world.
All this driving around with the children, their interests and the dangers they are and aren’t aware of resonates with my thinking on Grace right now.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
‘Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.
This mad journey through depression, anxiety and everyday parenting is littered with signs of every description. Books, music, advice, jokes, stories, blogs, sermons, events, friendships. Some are clearly in my best interests, guiding me or slowing me down. Others are harder to interpret – perhaps I don’t have the tools right now – and I cannot navigate alone. I have a wonderful set of friends, counsellors and family working with me through these spots, and God’s Grace is clearly carrying me through even the darkest miles. There are clearly dangers – visible and invisible. Toils – hard work, sacrifices and tough decisions to make. Snares – temporary and habitual. Blood, sweat and tears. The world, the flesh and the devil. So many signs. Sensory overload at times – frequently, in fact.
The experience of learning deep trust for our relocation is strangely healing. It is necessary to focus on one thing at a time. The stress levels do rise at times – this week alone there have been hard decisions to make, and there will be more. But the journey is progressing and the companionship of God and his utter faithfulness and love is readily apparent because we are on the journey. Sitting in the passenger seat I can talk about my passions and fears with God and allow his Grace to carry me, help me make sense of my world and navigate me on routes I do not recognise. He’s brought me safe thus far. Against all the odds. I know he will bring me safely home.
Amazing Grace has always been my favourite hymn (I requested it at my baptism service and almost couldn’t sing as it reduced me to tears), for the words, the music and the message. I’m finding myself relying on it more and more as the invisible snares reveal themselves – your post is such a beautiful expression of something I recognise but could never put into words so clearly! (And incidentally, I learnt to drive using a gear stick – please tell Lily that for me at least, having a gear stick is LESS scary than a manual, as I feel more in tune with the car. And possibly it appeals to my control-freak side…)