I’ve discovered how to practice patience. Just take a road trip through Chicago on a Friday afternoon.
Last week my girls and I hopped in our minivan to visit friends in Illinois, which according to our GPS should have been a 3 ½ hour drive. And on the way there, it was. We arrived late Thursday afternoon and spent the evening chatting, laughing, swimming and snacking, enjoying precious time with precious people. It was worth every second of the trip.
Even the trip home.
Because let me tell you, that was no 3 ½ hour drive. As soon as our mom-mobile met the on-ramp, we crawled, bumper to bumper, across 200 miles of interstate from Manteno to Milwaukee and then some. Apparently everybody with a vehicle decided to hit the highway that afternoon, and so with only a couple quick potty stops and one 20-minute lunch break, our 3 ½ hour drive grew to nearly seven hours on the road. Seven!! By the time my girls and I reached home at last, our brains were drained and our legs were like taffy.
And I had never felt so strong.
Because this trip? It was a big deal for me. Before marriage, I drove long road trips through big city expressways all the time. At night! I knew how to crank up my cassette player (yes, I’m old), flip on the cruise control and manage tricky traffic without a second thought for my safety or skill. I was independent. I was capable.
And then I met my husband. And he did all the driving.
And the gas pumping.
And the tire checking.
And I became content to settle into my passenger seat, the trusty companion, relying on my husband to take the lead and take the wheel. And that’s okay. That’s a blessing. Marriage takes teamwork, and we do that very well.
Yet I think I forgot my own abilities in the midst of it.
I used to know how to troubleshoot the DVD player. Now I ask my husband to do it.
I used to pound nails in the wall and hang pictures wherever I wanted them. Now my husband prefers to measure, level, and reinforce. So I don’t even bother. Hanging pictures is his job now.
Grilling, mowing lawn, taking out the garbage—there are all sorts of tasks around the house that belong to my man because we’re a duo, we divide and conquer so our household can thrive. Whether or not I can actually do the jobs he does seems kind of irrelevant because I don’t have to do them.
But then came our road trip. And I realized how long it had been since I’d driven such a distance on my own, and even scarier now because I wasn’t really on my own at all. Now I have two children to transport and protect. My cherished cargo. Their safety was all up to me. No hubby buffer would be manning the wheel this time. Mom had to step it up! And I did! I was all over that road trip thing!
Until my “low tire” light went on.
Whaaat? I’m not the one who checks the tires, man! I don’t use an air pump! I didn’t even have a tire gauge in my car, for crying out loud!
But—I did what grown-ups do. I remained calm, got off at the nearest gas station, bought a tire gauge and checked those PSIs like a boss. And the whole time I was unscrewing wheel caps, filling my tires with loud bursts of air, getting my fingers black and my forehead sweaty, my confidence swelled like it hadn’t in years.
I am capable.
And sometimes I forget.
Do you forget, too?
There’s a big difference between not having to do something, and not being able to do it. Sometimes I just confuse the two. As if, in the roles and routines of family life, I’ve lost some old part of me. But I haven’t. You haven’t. We’ve just made that old girl better. Different, maybe, but better.
Because now we’re not just managing ourselves—as if independence defines us somehow. Quite the opposite, actually. Now we’re also looking out for smaller humans who need us and admire us and believe in us. They don’t know you haven’t wrestled an air pump in years. You’re an adult. You are MOM. You can do this.
You can do anything God calls you to do. And so can I.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
So. If ever you miss who you were before “honey” and “Mom” became your first names…
If ever you think you’re not performing enough, producing enough, strong enough, or worthy enough…
And if ever you wish you didn’t fear so many stinking things since adulthood brought you far more to lose…
Then hear this.
You, momma, are not just changing diapers or wrestling octopus arms into pajamas. You’re raising disciples.
You’re not just chopping carrot sticks and flipping grilled cheese sandwiches. You’re fueling the next generation of Jesus’ army.
And you’re not just vacuuming French fries off the floor of the long-suffering minivan. You are working alongside the God of the Universe to populate the new heaven and the new earth.
That is important work—arguably THE MOST IMPORTANT work.
You are capable.
Because God says you are.
So next time you’re feeling inadequate or scared, dear one, embrace it. Drive to the next gas station—I’ll meet you there. It’s time we both learn to change a tire. Amen?
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