Thursday, July 17, 2008

P4E.081 What I've Learned Driving Cars

Gwen and I have found it very common for wives that we counsel to be upset with the way their husbands drive.

My driving habits have offered me an opportunity to learn some important lessons. My wife, Gwen, has felt very endangered by the way I drive. How many times have I heard: "You're going too fast!" "You're following too close!" "Brake!" Gwen often applies the imaginary passenger side brake or braces herself for oncoming destruction. When I see or hear these things my natural (fleshly) response is to get defensive. Since one of my goals is to become more sensitive to my spirit and Gwen's spirit I need to explore what a spiritual response would be.

If Gwen feels unsafe when I'm driving it's because she perceives (feels) a real threat to her safety. My flesh wants to convince her of my superior driving skills and tell her to 'get over it' (thereby discounting her emotions...and her). My spirit reminds me that I am responsible for the care of her spirit. Driving offers me an opportunity to care for Gwen's spiritual state by valuing her opinions/ attitudes/ feelings, honoring them by putting them ahead of my own and responding by CHANGING what I'm doing.

Gwen's asked me: "Do you know where you're going? Why don't you stop and get directions?" In driving, as in relationships, 'safe' is a state of mind, a feeling, as much or more than it is a status. Feeling 'safe' includes the peace of mind of knowing where we are going and that we're in agreement on how we're going to get there.

My driving habits shed light on how callous I am to perceiving a threat. The fact is that Gwen is a better judge than I am for how 'safe' I drive. It is a grave danger to be passive, callous and insensitive to physical and spiritual threats. I need help in assessing and perceiving physical and spiritual threats. And Gwen is great help.

Driving is one of the places where the 'rubber meets the road' as far as my Christianity goes. Driving is the most common activity where I make the conscious decision: "I AM FIRST." That is to say, 'My destination is more important than yours,' 'My time is more important than yours,' 'My driving skills are superior to yours,' 'My car is more prestigious than yours,' 'I am faster than you are,' 'I have more power than you have,' 'Outta my way, man!'

The 'I am first' attitude is so plainly contrary to Christ's teaching that I must take some time to stop and evaluate how I do what I do and why I do it. Scripture describes a war going on between my flesh and my spirit. For me, more battles have been won by the flesh than the spirit. That is because my ways are not naturally God's ways. I must exert my spirit to strengthen it and make it fit for battle. Then I might be able to shed the 'I am first' attitude, plan my time better, start a little earlier and drive with more self-control so that my drive could be more peaceful.

A group of men were discussing how angry and frustrated they would become when cut off on the freeway. But, one of the men said, "I've never been cut off on the freeway." As the others cynically expressed their disbelief, he explained,

"I've never been cut off because I always let them go first...."

What a concept!

Guard your heart, Kim

Middle Zone Musings - What I Learned From Transportation


  1. What an interesting and thoughtful post on driving, Kim! I like it.

    Thanks for joining the writing project, even though it was a bit late. But don't worry - I added yours to the list anyway.

    Don't forget to drop by the first Monday of every month for the next What I Learned From... groupwrite project. You're always welcome!

  2. Kim,

    These are great thoughts about men, women, and driving. I would agree than when we're driving with women, we should be considerate of their sense of things and their desire for safety and security.

    At the same time, I'm not in full agreement that to drive aggressively and competitively is necessarily self-centered and/or sinful. It is part of the male make up, and agressiveness and competitiveness is not something we want to discourage. Channel it, yes. Control it (so that we don't become dangerous to others), yes. But I think the world needs men who are aggressive and competitive in lots of areas, and men need places where they can be themselves in this regard. Unfortunately, there are places in our culture (the church being one such place) that is very uncomfortable with what seem to me to be God-given traits.

    Overall, though, good insights.

  3. Mark,

    Hmmm. Maybe we are disagreeing about definitions. In my mind "aggression refers to behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain" (Wikipedia definition)

    I can see being "assertive," but not sure, in a Christian context, where aggression is necessary or warranted in any important endeavor in life. War may be the only exception and even there I may be more pacifist than most.

    As far as competition goes, again in my mind, "competition is the rivalry of two or more parties over something...animals compete over water supplies, food, and mates. In addition, humans compete for attention, wealth, prestige, and fame." Again, Wikipedia definition works for me.

    Again, in a Christian context, in what important aspects of life is a competitive nature necessary? Are we talking sports? Are we talking NASCAR?

    It's a stretch for me. I think you are having a knee-jerk reaction to what you think you're seeing in the Christian community: feminization of men. So you're clinging to anything that makes men "men."

    I think there are a lot of fine Christian men who aren't aggressive or competitive. We shouldn't make them feel any less Christian because they aren't! In fact they may be closer to the mark than you think.