You’re driving out of your neighborhood, headed to an early meeting. You didn’t leave the house quite early enough. Now, traffic ahead of you is stopped. Oh, no! A school bus. And there are 9 kids at stop, lined up, s-l-o-w-l-y boarding. Yes, it’s the first day, but must each parent give such a prolonged “goodbye”?
Finally, the bus gets moving, but then, as you turn onto the main road, it hits you. You have to drive right by the school, which will be backed up with parents dropping their kids off. Really? Today? Ugh!
You get past the school. Now you’re sweating a bit. It won’t look good if you’re late to this meeting. You’re thinking about the day ahead and don’t really pay that close attention to where you’re going. Driving on mental auto-pilot, you take the route through town as you have all summer. Only a few seconds too late do you realize, the university is also back in session.
School is back in session!
Downtown Chapel Hill is going to be overrun with cocky Tar Heel undergrads crossing the street wherever they feel like it, and 1000’s of other people who seem to have arrived in town en masse for the start of the semester. Maybe it won’t be so bad, you pray as you near the heart of the city, only to discover it is as bad as you anticipated.
Now, you’re going to be late for the meeting. And, after enduring the long stare and furrowed brow of your boss, you’re going to have to hear your co-workers chatter incessantly about their kids’ first day.
Take a deep breath. In and out. Take several if you need to. The traffic is moving slowly, you have time. This is the part where you remember that you’re a follower of Jesus. When you step into the world, your primary calling is to live in a way that shines His light and emits His love.
As you sit in traffic, think back to that mom you saw wiping away tears as she ushered her kindergartener onto the school bus for the first time. This is a big day for her and she’s full of emotion. Ask God to comfort her and help her through the day.
Think of that other kid from the bus stop, the one with mussed up hair who kept slapping the backs of the other kids’ heads. He couldn’t keep still. What an annoyance! Maybe he has ADHD and his medication doesn’t work, and that’s why he was constantly wiggling in a way that made everyone around him try to keep their distance. Maybe he has some other condition. Whatever it is, if he can’t get it under control, he’s going to be lonely because no one will want to be his friend. Pray for that child. And, definitely pray for God to help that child’s teacher.
As you make your way through town, there’s someone you did not notice. It’s a college student who did not get accepted into the program she really wanted. Now, she wanders toward her first class in a cloud of anxiety. She’s not sure what to major in, not sure of her future. She needs to know God has her in His hands. She may or may not know that she needs that, but she does. Pray for her.
As you pull into a parking spot at work, pray for your co-worker who will talk about her school-aged kids from now until the end of May. Why does she do that? Is it because she is so concerned about them and she feels so powerless to help them? After all, she’s here at work while they are out of her arm’s reach at school. Pray that God would gently help her let her children grow up. Pray that God would remind her that this is OK.
Finally, when you look into your own eyes in the bathroom mirror at work, pray for yourself. Why are you missing out on this back-to-school fun? Are your kids grown? Is your annoyance really a cover for your sadness because you love your kids and they’ll never be little again and you miss them? It’s OK. Tell God you’re feeling a bit and sad ask God to sit with you in your sadness. He will.
Or, is your sadness of a different sort? You never had the opportunity to have children and you protect yourself from the pain that brings by telling yourself kids are a bother who just get in your way. Maybe deep down, that’s what’s really eating at you today. It’s OK. As you look into your own eyes, tell God your feelings, your real feelings, the deeper emotion beneath the irritation. You’ve prayed for the kids and their teachers and parents. You’ve prayed for the college students. Now pray for yourself. Ask God to replace your irritability with compassions and joy, and ask God to fill the empty places in you.
Let the happenings of today lead you into prayer.
And tomorrow? Leave the house earlier and remember not to drive through town!