If you think that most conversations I have with my family members are beautifully articulate, grace filled experiences like my last post, think again. The vast majority of my relational holy moments start out ugly and gnarled and are a gift I’d like to return. They become sacred only after processing them raw and real. Sometimes the redemptive part is about a decade later and through the rear view mirror.
Which brings me back to that wretched topic of driving. I don’t know what it is inside me that triggers such anxiety about car travel. Thankfully, God’s loving compassion has no time limit and He’s at work transforming and healing the broken places in His children until the moment we cross over into eternity. I am not the same as I was 10 years ago and that’s good. I am not entirely different and that’s good too.
Back in those days an ambulance siren blaring in earshot caused a physical response in me. My muscles tightened, worry alarms sounded off in my head, and I begin to project catastrophic possibilities for my family members who were out on the road. Maybe it’s a result of generational influence. My mom flipped her car one Thanksgiving Day when she was in her late 30’s. The large bowl of cranberries that splattered bloodlike all over the car, left a stain on her confidence and she never drove again. Or maybe it was the traumatic car accident my aunt and uncle were in when I was 16 and all my memories of hospitals, tracheotomies, comas, vegetative conditions and subsequent death. Only God fully grasps all those secret complexities that imprint on our tender psyches and settle into our vulnerable places. But we spend our lives re-dressing ourselves in the whole armor of God to resist the devils attacks regarding them.
When the girls were young and we built our dream house and moved out to the country, Brian’s work commute increased. Winters were icy on country roads, watching out for deer was as common as avoiding armadillo in Texas but more dangerous. We lived in earshot of a busy 2 lane highway that was famous for fatal collisions. Hardly a day passed without hearing sirens screaming and fighting that tightness in my stomach.
It got dark early in the winters and in those days I actually fed my family dinner at a reasonable time. Brian’s work demands were grueling and required long days. Around 6 p.m. each night, the girls were crabby, whining, hungry. I hoped that every seat at our table would be filled with a warm body but was often unsure when Brian would be joining us.
These were the days before our family technologically immersed in the 21st century and all its immediate connectivity. Communication was via land line.
My phone conversation with Brian nuanced my recent interaction with Angela at its core. Fear propelled me to grasp for control.
“Call me before you leave the office so I know when to expect you.” I said in a demanding tone.
He responded, “I’m not going to commit to that. It’s not my tendency to remember those kinds of things and anyway, I’m not going to be an enabler for your worrying.”
In case you are tempted to judge Brian harshly, give him a break. If you’d been married to me for nearly 15 years and been submerged into my vortex of anxiety, I’d dare you to do better.
Still, that moment didn’t feel very relationally sacred to me, nor did it foster deeper connection or greater trust.. But God is faithful. He’s always up to something redemptive and what I’m discovering is that the raw, ugly struggle of processing relational disappointments with God is consecrating too. Perhaps more so because it costs something to embrace it—its currency is humility, forgiveness, resisting the urge to repay hurt with hurt and substituting truth for lies about my identity in Christ.
I have to take off my smelly shoes and stand barefoot in His presence. And He meets me there. At times, the ground beneath my feet feels like lush well watered bluegrass and sometimes it burns like sun baked sand on my soles.
Either way, it’s still holy ground.