This past weekend I got to take my kids to their first basketball tournament. It was a lot of fun. Our teams played well. Our boy’s team got second place. Yay team! Our girls played hard. Our cheerleaders were awesome. I had a lot of fun getting to know other parents from our school.
I did learn something about myself. I have never been a sports person. I’m not athletic and I’ve never particularly felt like watching other people play sports. Now, I’m wondering if I don’t watch sports because subconsciously I just know I can’t handle that level of excitement/stress/anxiety/emotional involvement. The girls championship game came first before our the boys championship game and I was watching and I did not know anyone on the court and I found myself getting so upset and yelling (it was a vicious game) and cheering and I felt ALL THESE EMOTIONS and I was thinking, good grief, I’m not cut out for this kind of excitement. And then I had to watch our team play right after that. Needless to say, by the time the tournament was over I was wiped out.
We had to travel to North Carolina for the tournament which meant we had around a six hour drive back home. I made a joke to some of the other parents about hoping I didn’t break down on the way home (FORESHADOWING). I should have kept my mouth shut (FORESHADOWING). I really wasn’t worried though. My husband had just recently fixed some things and taken the same car for a road trip and had no problems.
Just a little information. Our family drives old cars. My husband buys them cheap and then fixes them up cause he’s got skills like that. If my car breaks down, I call him, he comes and rescues me, we move on. I don’t love it. It’s what we do to live on the budget we have. It works well enough. Also means I’ve got lots of crazy stories.
So, I’m zipping along the interstate, already feeling a little stressed. I don’t like driving at night. I don’t like driving when I’m tired. I was keeping myself pumped up with loud praise music, caffeine and sugar. Then suddenly a bright yellow, CHECK ENGINE light starts flashing and I start losing power. My car slows down about 10 mph and then does a little kick and keeps going and then the whole car starts jerking so I pull over. In the dark, on the side of a mountain road. Nothing around us. I no longer need caffeine and sugar. I’ve got pure adrenaline pumping through my veins.
I will tell you another thing about myself. When I am in a high stress situation, I start praying out loud. And maybe swearing a bit too. It’s a weird mix. My two middleschoolers sit silently and watch me. Unfortunately for them, they’ve been in this situation before. I call my husband who walks me through some things to check. I open the hood of the car like I know what I’m doing, while my son holds my cellphone/flashlight. Everything checks out. So now my husband knows what is NOT the problem. He finally tells me to start driving again, slow down, see what happens. I check my fuel gauge, I’ve got a quarter tank, I need to stop soon and get gas (FORESHADOWING).
So I start driving again, out-loud praying has resumed. I quickly discover that when driving on flat stretches or going down hill, my car can go about 60mph before it starts jerking. Going up hill I have to slow down to around 40-45mph. Did I also mention that I’m just starting to head up the mountain pass through the Smokies?
It’s dark. It’s late. I’m constantly having to slow way down, put on my hazard lights and crawl my way up the mountain. And I’m just trying to get home. I turn off the heater because that has caused problems in the past, so now I’m freezing, got my gloves on, gripping the steering wheel hard. Music is off because I was using my phone to listen to music and realized my battery is low, and I don’t have the proper adaptor to charge my phone in the car.
I’m driving along, we’ve passed all the cities and we are now smack in the middle of the mountains. Suddenly, no matter how much I slow down, my car won’t stop jerking. Out loud praying and swearing starts again. I look at my gas gauge, I’m below the E line. Way below. I forgot to get gas. I was so focused on trying to keep my car moving, I FORGOT GAS!! Y’all. I’m not cut out for the adventurous life. I don’t have the brain cells to keep track of everything when I’m stressed. I felt like such an idiot. And my prayer became, LORD, I’M AN IDIOT. PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME. And I almost fell apart. And it’s weird, but at that moment, I suddenly thought of a book I am reading. In the book the main character is a leader with people under him. And he really takes that responsibility to heart. They look to him for help and he knows it’s his job to help them. And I thought, there is no way an author can create a character who is better than God. God is the one charge of taking care of me, and he takes that responsibility a lot more seriously than some character in a book. He’s going to help me. And then my son quickly points out a rest area sign, Look MOM! A rest area! I debated with myself for a moment. There’s no gas at a rest area, but at least it’s a safe place, better than the side of the road and there will be people who can help me.
We pulled in and there was a lady outside as part of the cleaning crew. I went up to her and explained my problem and she pulled out her phone and called the Highway Patrol. (*HP if you ever need to call them!). Highway patrol came about ten minutes later and gave me two gallons of gas. We got back on the road and had a little more stress trying to find a gas station out in the middle of nowhere that would be open at 11pm. But, I pulled into a closed gas station and their pumps were on. We got gas, and an hour later I finally got home.
In the midst of all this, when everything started going crazy, my daughter asked in an uncertain voice, “Are we ok?” And I said, Listen, I’m going to get you home. I guarantee that. There might be some adventures between now and home, but we will get home eventually. And apparently her faith in me was strong because she wrapped herself up in a blanket and went to sleep and slept through all the rest of the craziness. My son even managed to sleep a bit once I got gas in the car.
As I was getting close to home, I couldn’t help thinking, WHY??? And what came to my mind was that my two middleschoolers got to watch their mom handle a stressful situation. They listened to me pray and ask Jesus to help us and get us home safely and then they got to watch Jesus help us and get us home safely. And they also heard me acknowledge his help and thank him. Christian discipleship. I show you what the Christian walk looks like, and you learn from watching me. And you grow in your faith. And in the process I grow in my faith too.
Next time though, I think I might rent a car.