If I could go straight home after work, it would be a very easy 15 minute drive. When I pick up the kids after work, it takes me about 1 hour to leave work, pick up both kids at their separate schools, fight the neighborhood traffic and get back home. It is very easy to feel like a taxi driver, wasting my time driving all over town.
When I have the right attitude, I actually enjoy our time in the car each day. The trick is that I need to choose to make this time in the car fun; choose to foster communication; then our hour forced together in the car is actually a blessing. My 6-year-old son and I have had some amazingly deep conversations driving to and from school.
Now, I wouldn’t say the car experience is “deep” and meaningful with my 2-year-old, but we do sing songs and laugh and talk about her day. (I think our enjoyment of car time is more dependent on her attitude choice than my own. I, unfortunately, have little control over her attitude in the car at the end of a long day!)
One day in the car, my son asked to hear about when my grandma died. My grandma, a huge part of my life since the day I was born, died 3 weeks before my son was born. It was devastating for me, for our family. It was very difficult – it is still difficult – to think that she didn’t get to see me be a mom.
My son likes to hear this story – I don’t know why. Maybe he likes to consider that I had a relationship with a grandparent much like he has with his own grandparents. Or perhaps it is strange for him to think about a life that existed before he was born.
On this one day, my story led us into a conversation about death. When do we die? When do I want to die? We talked about how death is not scary, but sometimes sad for the people left on earth. He asked insightful questions; had good responses to my questions.
He sat quietly for a bit and I knew he was processing something. Over the summer he went with his dad and grandpa to a cemetery. While there, grandpa showed him the grave of an infant – a baby that died the day after he was born. My son told me this story and then said: “I know that God made us to live in this world. Why did God do that if we are going to die?”
My son, the theologian. And a moment of silent prayer from mom for the right words to respond.
I said that he had a wonderful question, and that there are probably many reasons. I asked if he had any ideas. He thought about it but had nothing to offer. I told him that I had some ideas, but we could never really know for sure because we humans can’t truly understand why God does what he does. I told my son that I think God put us here to show God’s love to other people. That seemed like a good enough reason for my 6-year-old.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
What a profound question and a meaningful conversation – all out of a boring commute with my son! I take away two important reminders from this experience:
- To show God’s love to other people – because that is why I told my son we’re here, so I better live up to it!
- To take advantage of these little moments with my family or my friends and have real, faith-building communication.
Thankfully, these two things work together quite well. Engaging with family and friends will show God’s love! I look forward to many more conversations with my kids in the car – and am excited to see the many ways we will continue build up each other’s faith!