Hope you’ve had a lovely week. We dropped my son, Will, off at college. The drive away was awful. I am so sorry that I have failed miserably to be sympathetic to those who have gone before. It’s crushing and I’m sorry for anyone who has, or will ever, do it. And of course it has nothing to do with whether they’re ready or happy. Instead it’s just a deep and unmistakable line in the sand marking the end of a beloved era. I had been told it was hard, but I did not appreciate that the line isn’t drawn in the sand at all, but is drawn by a wickedly sharp and jagged dagger across your heart. Would an actual physical stabbing hurt worse than having my husband drive off with our son standing there and me half-dying in the passenger seat? Pshaw!
Letting go is hard. I struggle with it in a somewhat unusual way: in the car. I am not a timid driver, but if I am the passenger I pretty much act like death is imminent for half the ride. It’s weird because I have not been in a single accident with my husband or either of my driving sons. But there’s been some close calls, and I often hang on to the little handle above the passenger seat for dear life.
Last Friday we went out to lunch as a family. For school-required quarantine reasons, we knew it would be our last outing as the five of us. It was such a fun time, with a gorgeous view of the river and yummy food. When we left, I let Nate drive. A few minutes later we had this conversation.
Nate asked, “Why are you holding on?” At that moment he was in some very benign driving situation, where it was clear I had no cause for alarm whatsoever. I grinned at him from ear to ear.
“Holding on’s my favorite!” I answered and died laughing just like my mother would have, who always appreciated a good Elf reference.
But the truth is that holding on is my favorite. I struggle with not having a ton of compassion for healthy, under-sixty people who live in fear of COVID (the data doesn’t support being terrified), and I feel frustrated by the absurdity that there’s any option or has been any option other than to live with the virus. A man in Rome, Georgia who did not travel and did not attend some super-spreading funeral was diagnosed in the beginning of March with COVID-19, and anyone with a shred of honesty knew then that it was out of the bag, way out. If a random dude in small-town America, who did not travel, had this thing then we needed to understand the likelihood we were all getting it. The reasoned response would be to protect the old and infirm and have the rest of us face reality.
But here I am all chill about a virus (if it’s the Lord’s timing, it’s the Lord’s timing, and to die is gain anyway), but strap me in to that passenger seat and I turn into a weirdo gripped by fear?
There are differences. The risk for my sons is obviously much greater in the car than from COVID, but I don’t think that’s entirely the basis for my behavior. I think sometimes we just don’t make sense. People do things they know they shouldn’t. They even do things they intend not to do.
The Apostle Paul says it best:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Romans 7:15, 17-21 NIV
So much truth! When I want to let go, and trust that God has a plan, evil is right there with me, white knuckling my grip. I want to be reasoned and consistent, but I’m a sinner and I cannot carry it out. I need to pray daily for wisdom and for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I hope that’s your daily prayer too!
P.S. As always these views are solely my own and do not reflect on anyone else who may or may not work in healthcare.
P.S.S. If you do not know what your irksome quirks are, are you really self-aware at all? And I always tell my boys when we talk about my many flaws that it is good for them to learn. It doesn’t matter how much you madly love someone, good relationships always require grace, lots of it.