Carpool

What to Remember When Your “Not-Best” Self Shows Up

I am not my best self in the morning. Sadly, this “not-best” version of myself must still carpool during morning rush hour traffic—a setup for the perfect storm.

I lugged my “not-best” self into the car and noticed my son Jon’s anxiety was high. Anxiety is one of his most difficult challenges. He is rarely free of feeling worried or scared.

Before leaving the driveway, his questions started. Now, I’ve heard all these questions before and have answered them many times.

However, when a change comes or an upcoming event looms, the questions reflect Jon’s heightened anxiety, not an “Oh, that’s right; I forgot” response.

I tried to answer his questions with kindness, knowing my tone was vitally important to prevent his anxiety escalating. I tried to maintain my loving, understanding tone and employed coping skills to reduce his anxiety.

Here’s the kicker . . . Jon’s so intuitive. So if I’m a bit irritable, he senses it and becomes horribly uncomfortable—and the last thing I want is to trigger his anxiety on the way to school.

To be totally honest, I experience these hard moments daily as a parent of a son who isn’t capable of learning how to reduce anxiety or perceive reality as it is.

Some days, before we arrive at the first signal light, Jon’s questions have already begun—persistent and anxious . . . and like a theology class:

  • How do I know if someone is saved?
  • When Jesus returns, will He have to die again?
  • What will happen to this world when Jesus takes over?
  • When and where will we be when the earth blows up and God’s in charge (his concept of end times)?

And sometimes, his questions are like this:

  • Did you call so-and-so?
  • What are our plans for each day this week?
  • When is my brother’s graduation?
  • When we will go shopping for his graduation present?
  • What will we get him?
  • Would you like to meet my new friend who goes to our church?
  • And? . . . And ?. . . AND!

Lover or a Fighter

Well, I blew it. My tone changed, and he could tell I was frustrated. My not-best self wanted to blame traffic, exhaustion, chronic pain, or whatever.

The problem with blame is it solves nothing and creates more problems. As Jon closed the car door and walked toward the school, he turned back to see if I was smiling and waving goodbye as I usually do.

He tries so hard to live in this world, so a simple smile or loving wave touches his heart.

Then it hit me . . .

  • Don’t we all ask the Lord the same question over and over and over when we are stressed?
  • Don’t we want to know what is ahead so we feel a sense of control?
  • Don’t we check and recheck things we feel insecure about?
  • Don’t we need to be assured of God’s love even when we feel unlovable?
  • Don’t we long for heaven amid these unsettled times?
  • Don’t our worries consume us on hard days?

I know the answer in my head; my heart battles with this sinful nature. I know to pray, to release my anxieties to God with thanksgiving, to find refuge in Him . . . I KNOW that stuff.

But I need help resting my heart, with the countless unknowns in this life. I need help from the One who never runs out of patience, who is never frustrated with traffic, who always reaches out for me to rest in Him.

When I spend time with the Lord, the One who splashes my soul with an eternal perspective, it becomes obvious that my son’s challenges are not very different from mine. In fact, all humanity needs God, who provides . . .

  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Acceptance
  • Patience
  • Joy

Ephesians 5:1–2 calls us to “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”

Jesus Is a Morning Person

Morning
(Image from Pixabay)

Anxiety is the perception that one is in danger. Typically, anxiety manifests itself in the behaviors of people with a history of trauma or abuse, as is the case with my son and me.

Anxiety can also result from genetics, brain chemistry, lack of sleep, intense stress, or poor coping skills. In short, we can all be susceptible to anxiety.

The most frustrating symptom of anxiety is that the danger feels so real. Chemicals are released that cause one to ruminate (think on one or two things for hours), to question or repeat things over and over, to be forgetful, and to possess consuming preoccupation with something or someone.

Anxiety has always been a mental health concern, which is why the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry [in other words, don’t be anxious] about anything; instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Our Savior is aware of our proneness to anxiety. Tell Him about it. In my son Jon’s wisdom, he knew it was better to speak than to keep the weight of anxiety within him.

He talked to his mama . . . and in the same way, we can talk with the Lord. Jesus is a morning person! He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).

Let Me Hear from You

I’ve found helpful tools to help me cope and to help my son cope, but nothing provides the fortitude to walk through life like Jesus Christ. In Him, there is no fear.

In Him, we are loved, accepted, forgiven, welcomed always. Are you running to the only One who can fill your soul when anxious or impatient? Do others see the work of Christ in your life? Where do you need Him to fill you these days? I would love to hear from you today.

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