Back when we were dating, we lived overseas (in separate apartments…for the record) with no car. I’m not sure I ever really rode in a car with Aubrey driving until we were pretty much engaged and, especially as a person who struggles with anxiety, I’m seriously glad he turned out to be a good driver.
When we started driving in cars together, we developed a custom of praying — usually in the beginning of the trip, we’d lift up whatever we were going to do as well anything else on our minds. It wasn’t that we were constantly praying together or anything, it was more like being in the car became a trigger to remind us to pray and it formed a habit that we enjoyed and was good for us.
When we moved back overseas and went back to being car-less, we honestly missed having that trigger that led us to pray together. Not to mention, by that time, we had a 1-year-old who we were usually monitoring for signs of car sickness, making sure she wasn’t about to open the car door or climb into the driver’s seat (no car seats in taxis in Asia), and generally trying to entertain her. During those 5 years or so, we offered up shorter prayers – and usually in code since Big Brother felt like a fly on every wall.
Now that we’re back in the States, and have a car again, we try to get back in the habit of praying in the car. Except, now our 3-year-old is more likely than not crying about a wedgie or that the sun is in her eyes and our 6-year-old is asking how much longer until we get there or asking for a snack. In short, we have two children — being children — in the backseat and we often find it difficult, frustrating, and sometimes impossible to talk to each other, or to God, in the car.
I’ve always liked driving. I think it’s something to do with my anxiety — I like the feeling that I’m somewhat in control. It’s also, particularly without too much noise, a space to think, notice, dream, and feel. There’s so much to sense when you’re driving — the white fluffy clouds drifting through the sky, the occasional smell that will waft into the car, sometimes the wind blowing through your hair, the trees turning warm yellows and oranges in a Georgia Fall on the drive up I-75. Memories are evoked, longings are stirred. There are drives, of course, where the only sense to feel is: I’m late, why is everyone so slow? But for the most part, driving makes me feel alert. Not only to the road, but also to the world around me and the world within me. This is probably why it feels like such an appropriate time to pray. Goodness knows my thoughts will be traveling down all kinds of roads, I may as well harness them up and offer them to God. Whether pouring out my heart, or offering up simple prayers amidst toddler meltdowns and trying not to lose my mind, I enjoy when I can buckle in, turn my eyes toward the road ahead of me, and drive.