Some seasons of life sneak up on us. Like that part of life when your kid is growing up and you haven’t even had a chance to figure out how to parent them yet. Over the past few weeks, I have been letting my daughter practice driving. The first day was scary, but not because of her. It was scary because I wasn’t sure I was equipped to teach her how to do something as important as driving a car. One of my biggest fears is that my daughter will get hurt and knowing how many young drivers are killed in accidents each day, I just can’t comfortable with the idea of turning her loose with a car. What if I don’t tell her all of the right things? What if I make her nervous? What if I forget to give her some vital piece of information that she will need the moment I am not in the car with her? I know that we have a long way to go and that she has to go through driving school and taking the big driver’s test before she’ll be driving without me, but it is stuck in the back of my mind and it won’t let me rest.
In reality, driving is the least of my worries. Eventually she will be cruising around town, going to school, getting a job, and doing all of the things I did when I was her age. God help me, maybe she’ll not do ALL of the things I did. But I have to accept that I’ve done the best I can with what I have to teach her how to grow up. I know that in some ways, I’m still trying to grow up so that makes it difficult for me to have any level of confidence in what I’m doing. As a matter of fact, it often feels like I’m making this stuff up as I go. When we get to a certain milestone, I’m thinking back to my experience and then making decisions about how to guide her based on what I would have liked to see happen in my own situation. It’s really the best I can do. If something didn’t go well for me at a certain point, I resort to a kind of “choose-your-own-adventure” style of parenting. If my mom chose option 1 and it didn’t pan out, then I’m choosing option 2. We’ll see how that works out for us.
I guess that’s not the worst way to do it. No one really has all of the right answers and since much of this is trial and error, I’m guessing that repeating the same mistakes would be much worse than simply making different mistakes. At least if it’s a different mistake, it shows that you may have learned something by choosing another option. Sometimes it works out fine; sometimes you encounter a whole new set of challenges and you just have to work through them. It was this train of thought that led me to allow my daughter to drive home from our usual practice route today.
I figured she was going to have to learn it all at some point anyway and that there were enough points along the way where we could stop that it would be fine if she started to freak out. So, we drove the usual route and she practiced her turns and backing out of a parking space and pulling out of a parking lot. No problem. We drove back out onto the main road and then, she did it! She drove all the way from our practice location across town, through major intersections and back to our little apartment which is tucked back in the woods. She only scared me twice and when it was all said and done, she wanted to drive some more. And so, that’s what we did. And that’s what we’ll keep doing until she is ready to tackle it on her own.
I’m sure that God does this with each of us as well. He tries to guide us and even when we scare Him with our performance, He continues to ride along patiently giving us direction and sometimes a bit of constructive criticism. He’ll do the same route with us time after time until He sees that we can handle that part on our own. He never really stops watching, but He might back off and let us cruise along on our own just so we can gain the confidence we need to gain in order to do the things He’s designed us to do. At one point or another, we’re able to make the journey without asking so many questions or feeling like we need so much help. But it’s nice to know that even then, He’ll still be there if we call on Him.
47 Days of Self-Care is a blogging project that is being published between three different blogs owned by Author & Publisher, Rebecca Benston. Over these 47 days, she hopes to share thoughts and resources for better self-care. You can view related posts at Higher Ground for Life, at the Leading the Follower blog, and on the Higher Ground Books & Media blog.