Last Friday I traded places with a stranger. I stepped out of the passenger seat, and the DMV evaluator climbed in.
From the front of the building, I watched my son easily maneuver Dad’s car around the parking lot in forward and reverse, breeze in and out of the parallel parking spot, and effortlessly back into a traditional parking spot. When he drove out of the parking lot for the road portion of his driving test, I stepped into the building to await his return. He appeared to do a great job on the test course, but what would the official score say? Would he make a mistake on the road that would prevent him from getting his license today?
While trying to wait patiently for the results, I glanced repeatedly out the window. Finally, I spotted my son headed my way with the paperwork in hand. Did he pass? YES! It was certainly a proud mama moment!
After my son passed his driving test on Friday, he drove himself to work that afternoon. I was on pins and needles while he was on the road, but he actually walked into work with a smile on his face and his head held high. The secretary told me that was the most excited she has ever seen him.
It was one thing to allow my child to drive off with another responsible adult in the car. I was anxious and excited while the DMV official evaluated his driving, but I was confident that nothing bad would happen on her watch.
I admit that it was a little scary that afternoon to hand my son the car keys and watch him drive off on his own. Even though I knew he would do fine, I was concerned about a few details… like that left turn he has to make while sitting at the top of a hill on his way home. Seeing around the curves in both directions is always a little tricky, especially in late afternoon when the sun is so low in the sky. The slope of the road adds to the challenge of accelerating quickly enough. As I considered the potential outcome, my heart did some accelerating of its own!
However, the most frightening moment came on Wednesday night when I watched him back out of the driveway with his younger siblings. These kids are my responsibility, and a mom has every right to worry, doesn’t she?
Thoughts raced through my mind: Do I seriously want to let him drive his sisters to youth group? What if he gets impatient while waiting to make the left hand turn onto that busy road? What if he forgets to look in every direction before turning right on the way home? What about all the other drivers?
Even though I have been through it all before with his older sister, watching my son drive off with the rest of the kids was tough.
Have you ever worried yourself into a frenzy over things that are unlikely to happen? That is exactly what I was doing!
My strong maternal instinct to protect my children served me well when they were two, five and ten years old, but now that my babies are growing up, it is time to start letting go of that. I need to remember my Word of the Year: Trust.
Do I trust that my husband and I did a great job teaching my son to drive? Do I trust my son to be observant and make wise decisions when he is behind the wheel? And most importantly, will I trust God to watch over my kids when they are on the road?
When I think rationally about these questions in calm moments while my kids are all safely at home, every one of those answers is an easy yes.
Philippians 4:6 (NLT) reminds me:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Whenever I begin to worry, I really need to pray. When my son climbs into the driver’s seat, I should take a few moments to pray for him.
First, I should tell God what I need:
- Keep my son safe.
- Help him be alert so he can be a responsible driver.
- Protect him from other drivers.
- Give me the peace I need to trust Him with my son now and in the future.
Next, it is time to thank God for what He has already given my husband and me:
- An able-bodied and intelligent son
- Wisdom and patience to teach him to drive
- A car he can drive
- Extra time, since he can drive himself where he needs to go
- Date night together while all the kids are at youth group
When I take that time to pray instead of worry, I am a much more calm, peaceful, and sane mama! As Philippians 4:7 promises,
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace takes my focus off my own worries and places it on His plan and purpose. On Wednesday night when my son took the other kids to youth group, I did not obsess or fret about it, though I did check my son’s location a time or two. My husband and I had time to reconnect over dinner. Our marriage was blessed because I spent time trusting God rather than worrying about the kids.
By the way, they all made it home safely!
Do you worry about your kids as they take on more responsibilities and become more independent? In the comments, share your biggest worries. What has encouraged you to overcome them.