This week, two dastardly events descended on our family. First, our daughter spotted a MOUSE in my CAR – and it seems to have taken refuge under the passenger seat and we can’t get it out. Now, every time I drive somewhere I’m terrified that vermin will jump out at me. Secondly, a BLIZZARD hit Michigan… in NOVEMBER! We’re supposed to be hosing off the patio furniture, cleaning out the gutters and planting mums in the landscaping in November – not having snow days, clearing off icicles and endlessly shoveling the driveway!
Our daughter Grace turned 16 this year and has now been driving for five months. This snow-fall will be her first exposure to driving in the snow and ice – and she’s a little freaked by that. So on the first evening of serious snow accumulation, while I was driving her to volleyball, she asked me a great series of questions on how to navigate icy, snowy roads.
It wasn’t until I got about half-way through the questioning that I realized what a precious, precious gift we have - those of us living in this frozen tundra - because much of what we need to know about navigating life we can learn from navigating ice!
Winter driving is simply a “test-run” to teach us how to get through the tough stuff in life!
So I wrote a little summary on driving tips for my sweet daughter Grace to help her stay safe on nasty Michigan winter roads – and included the life applications to help her avoid “crashes” in life as well:
o Go slow. Always drive SLOWER than what you think you need to.
Life is speeding by – that is true. But if you insist on speeding with it, you will miss the VERY things that make life holy and precious – the essence of what it means to be alive. Take it slow. Breathe in the crispness of this winter air, hear the crunch of the snow beneath your boots, catch snowflakes in your mouth, bury your friends in snow drifts in our yard, savor the beauty of a world blanketed in white. THIS is our Father’s world – and we get the gift of enjoying it.
o When you feel you’re losing control on the ice and you start to slide (and you WILL slide someday, baby)- don’t slam on the brakes! Just tap them lightly, slow down, and hold steady.
Likewise, if you find yourself going off course in life, don’t come to a halt! Forward motion is necessary to take you OUT of the problem. You will make mistakes. You will, at times, lose your way – but keep going forward and hold steady to that which you know is true. Don’t ever find yourself on the side-lines just watching life go by, Grace. Get in the game and keep moving…
o Always have your cell phone with you. If you do get into trouble, all you have to do is call for help.
Oh, Grace, when it comes to life, this is such a hard one for me! Just remember, we were NOT meant to do this life alone! Reach out to others when you get into trouble – and together, you can make it.
o Keep your eyes on your mirrors and know what others’ are doing all around you. If they are starting to slip and slide, get out of their way – don’t get caught in their wreckage! But if you see someone go in the ditch, by all means, stop and offer help!
Likewise in life, Grace, there will be those who are crashing and burning all around you - all the time. Learn from them. Help them. But keep your distance from those who try to bring you into their wreckage. Instead, love them unconditionally and offer help whenever you can. Always, always, always, help those in need.
o You see that well-worn track in the road? Well, don’t take it. It’s deceptive – because it’s actually very icy there. Keep your wheels just off center of that track because you’ll get better traction where there’s a little snow and not just ice.
And likewise in life, do NOT take the trail most traveled! It, too, is slick and deceptive – alluring, but totally dangerous. It’s that whole “wide gate”, “narrow gate” thing… the path that “everybody else” is taking is the going to be the one that leads to destruction. Take the road less traveled, Grace, and it will make all the difference.
o Keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Because when that damn mouse appears, and oh, you better believe that he’ll appear – you gotta be ready! You DO NOT want to lose control when the mouse appears!
None of us, not one, are exempt from troubles in this life. They will come – for sure, they will come. So having both hands on the wheel – which represents HE who directs our paths – will keep you ready for when those “mice” jump into your life so that you don’t lose control and crash. When life gets hard – like when you have to change schools, or your friends hurt you, or you don’t get to play the sport you love, or your mom gets a terminal illness – you MUST have both hands on the wheel, Grace. Hang on to Jesus with all that you have.
You can do this, Grace! Remember – there will ALWAYS be ice and mice - but YOU have what it takes to drive right through the storms: a Perfect Co-Pilot.