Today I logged in about seven hours in the car. Kyle and I drove to New Jersey to meet my mother-in-law halfway between her home and ours so that Amanda could come back home. Terry and I made the drop-off drive together on Saturday.
As a bit of background, I would first like to say that I learned to drive in Houston, Texas. The job I held in high school was in the Galleria area (not the cool Galleria mall, but an office in the area where I was a, um, telemarketer). So, I drove from my house in the Southwest suburbs to the Galleria on two different freeways during rush hour to get there. My friends and I left no freeway unnavigated during those years. No problems.
Driving in the New York City metropolitan area has taken some getting used to. My trips to and from LaGuardia involve going over the Whitestone bridge, and driving through Connecticut and New York, and entering and exiting several freeways. I don't think that I've ever gotten lost (although figuring out how to get to the right place to pick up passengers took several instances of trial and error and still makes me nervous), but all last year there was construction on the bridge, which could easily double the time it took to make the trip.
This particular trip to meet my mother-in-law on the New Jersey Turnpike also involves several freeway changes and the George Washington Bridge. That means that traffic is inevitably involved. So, I worry until I have navigated the many interchanges it takes to actually get onto the Turnpike. I worry as I'm sitting in traffic about how long I might end up sitting there, and if I'm in pre-bridge traffic, I am also fretting that I am perhaps not in the right lane at all and will end up in some neighborhood in the Bronx. I've never exactly gotten lost (although I once took a bit of an indirect route, but thanks to a toll booth operator, I got back to the bridge quite easily). I have sat in traffic--hours of traffic on one particular trip. But none of those things are really cause for alarm.
You see, I'm not generally a worrier. I'm fairly level-headed and rational, so my rational self says to my slightly anxious self, "What's the worst that could happen?" Ever since Terry and I made that trip on Saturday, I have been worried about this trip today. Would I have to endure hours of traffic with an impatient three-year-old? Would the children bicker? Would I get lost in such a way that the map wouldn't really help me? Perhaps I worry about things that are out of my control. I do like to have control.
But isn't that what is at the root of all worry? Will my child get home from school safely? Will the bully leave him alone on the playground? Will my husband get a job? We don't have any control over these questions. I do know that having bouts of anxious irrational worrying has helped to grow compassion in me. Some of my friends are worriers, and while I've always been able to support them in prayer, and I have never really judged their worrisome habit, I couldn't really understand. Now I understand a bit better.
This week I also learned to relinquish control to my Heavenly Father. I prayed. This morning I asked, "I don't know why I'm so worried, but give me peace and help me to trust You." I asked a couple of good friends to pray (and they are the kind of friends who actually did pray). I felt their prayers, and I learned to trust more. The drive was short. There was no real traffic and I didn't feel too uncertain (even though I took a different route this time).
So maybe next time I'll feel more confident. Maybe next time I'll pray more and worry less.