Traffic School

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No, I didn’t get a ticket and, no, I didn’t go to Traffic School – although I have in the past and I would not want to wish either of those experiences on anyone!

God is teaching me some deep stuff through how I handle myself behind the wheel in traffic. And a lot of it is taking place at a “school”: namely, my grandson’s (Aiden) school where I drop him off every morning. Hence, today’s blog is entitled “Traffic School.”

If you want to get a microcosm of fallen human nature, all you need to do is watch people in the parking lot of an elementary school in the morning. It’s all there: cutting people off, double parking, road rage, rule breaking, selective finger gestures, and just about every form of rudeness and self-centeredness that one can think about. People in a hurry combined with long lines and limited space is a virtual petri dish that spawns and multiplies specimens of impatience and impertinence.

And those poor teachers and administrators who have to direct the traffic – Lord, have mercy! They have that look in their face that says, “I’m your kid’s teacher. Don’t run over me!”

I’m exaggerating a little. Sometimes it’s not that bad and every once in a while I come across a driver who is considerate and generous. But most of the time I find myself being tested.

I try to come with a good, Christ-like attitude. But it’s amazing how quickly I lose my spirituality and meld into the group think of “hurry up” and “it’s my turn now!” I wonder if there are other well-meaning Christ followers in that crazy parking lot who struggle like I do?

I am definitely a work in progress and, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that one of my “besetting sins” is being an impatient driver (which is why I don’t put a Christian bumper sticker on my car). But this is life in the “everyday ordinary” and how I live in these moments determine who or what I am worshiping. So here are a couple of things I am working on while in the school parking lot:

1. I pray the Jesus Prayer – a lot. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” It’s easy. It’s true. And it’s effective. I pray it when I enter the parking lot. I pray it every time I get cut off by another driver. I pray it when I drop off my grandson. I pray it when I leave the parking lot onto my next thing. It reminds me of who I belong to and my limitations and my need for what only God can give me.

2. I do an Examen. I notice the feelings and emotions that happen when I am treated rudely by another driver or when I feel like I am in a rush. I ask God to reveal what is underneath all these emotions. I ask the Spirit to speak to me, to give me perspective, and to give me peace.

3. I talk, play and am present with my grandson. This gives me perspective and grounds my spirituality in reality. Aiden is a delightful child. When I am truly present with him, I am elevated above the mundane craziness in the cars around me. I am reminded why Jesus says we must be like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So, as much as possible, I keep my attention on him until I drop him off with his Kindergarten teacher. Aiden helps me to be Christ-like and reminds me the joy of being his grandpa.

So what “school” is God giving you real life instructions about living out your spirituality?

What helps you to refocus on Jesus when life gets crazy?

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