Where do you want to go? Teenagers, manual transmissions, and letting your children go and grow.

My oldest daughter’s first car was the family stick shift. By the time she got her license, she’d driven hundreds of hours in all types of terrain, weather, and levels of visibility. I know because we made her get behind the wheel at every opportunity. She passed her driver’s test the same year I gave up my license.

Jordan became my primary mode of transportation when my vision loss no longer permitted me to drive.

New drivers in South Carolina may drive alone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time). After that time, a licensed driver, who is at least 21, must be in the vehicle from 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time) to midnight. It didn’t matter how many hours my daughter had logged or how proficient she’d become, there was a rule. I’m a rule follower, but I was no longer a licensed driver.

We petitioned the state to allow her to drive after hours without an accompanied licensed driver, which they granted. This allowed her to pick me up at Bible studies, drive us home from evening worship, and get herself to and from work.

The blessing side of all this was the continued time I spent with her. Most parents miss connecting with their teens when children no longer require shuttle services to school and events. Jordan and I continued to spend time together because of our new normal. It took some adjusting and give and take. I learned to be mindful of her time, and she discovered ways to consider my needs. I had to learn ways to let her go and grow.

One afternoon Jordan headed to a friend’s house. She’d been there a few times, but since I usually served as her GPS, she hadn’t remembered how quickly the street came up after the curve in the road. Through a series of events, she made the turn but not well enough and landed in the center of a subdivision sign. As in directly in the center. The vehicle wedged between the brick-covered cement block sides and stopped when it hit the large crepe myrtle behind it.

Getting her out was a challenge, but the newly reworked and very soft landscaping had slowed her vehicle enough to keep her from severe injury on impact.

Why do I tell this story? Because we missed teaching Jordan a valuable lesson. We’d helped her learn to watch out for other vehicles and drive defensively. We’d taught her what to do when involved in an accident. But we hadn’t prepared her for this: when you panic, you tend to focus on the obstacle rather than how to get around it. It would be best to look in the direction you want to go, not where you DON’T wish to go.

When you panic, you tend to focus on the obstacle rather than how to get around it.

Jordan focused on the certainty of hitting that sign.

Isn’t that what we do in life? I am overwhelmed with my out-of-balance life and focus on what I can’t accomplish. And, wham! I hit a brick wall.

Sure, we can factor in that my daughter was sixteen, driving a manual, uncertain where to turn, etc. Still, I wonder if things would have been different if she’d taken her eyes off the subdivision sign and directed them to the grassy area just a few feet over.

I also have excuses, as may you. But how much different might the outcome of life choices be if we focus on where we want to go and break the hypnotic hold our fear of where we are headed has over us?

After Jordan was deemed unhurt, she gave a statement to the police. She said all she saw was the sign and later told me it was like a magnet. The police officer placed his hand on her and said, “They’re called accidents for a reason. You didn’t do this intentionally, and I bet you won’t repeat the same mistake.”

He explained everything she did right and told her how impressed he was with how calm she remained, especially when she had to crawl over the seats and go out the back door someone bravely bullied open. He gave her the freedom to let the mistake go and move on. He offered her grace.

How might my day be different if I focus on where I want to go rather than where I don’t desire to go? And what would the outcome be if I concentrated entirely on Christ rather than things of this world?

“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, and set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2 NIV.

Setting my heart on things above establishes my priorities and how the advancement of God’s kingdom fits into the everyday moments of my earthly activities.

Today I pray you will focus on where you want to go.

By the way, the police officer said something to me as well. He looked at me and smiled. “It’s just a car. They’re replaceable.”

He needn’t say more.

Do you have a God story to share? I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below.

Published by Author Heidi Gray McGill

Heidi and her husband of over thirty years live in South Carolina. Besides writing Christian fiction with relatable characters in life-changing stories, Heidi relishes time with family and friends. She enjoys scrapbooking, playing games, traveling, and building bridges with her grandsons that must fall with a loud crash and usually involve a monster truck.

3 thoughts on “Where do you want to go? Teenagers, manual transmissions, and letting your children go and grow.

  1. How brave of Jordan to allow you to share this story! What a great way to think about obstacles; with God’s help, look where you want to go rather than allowing that brick wall to become a magnet. Thanks for sharing this! Now, about you being Jordan’s GPS, was that with your phone GPS or was that you only? Cuz, if so, I have questions…

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