Edric prefers to be home during Holy Week rather than go out of town because of the massive exodus of cars leaving Manila that clog the highways. So he was pretty dead set on staying in the house all weekend. However, my side of the family proposed going to Subic to enjoy time together. (Anytime the beach and cousins are part of any vacation, these are big draws for our kids.) Furthermore, some of our relatives from Canada and Singapore were supposed to go to the beach, too. So after much convincing, Edric agreed, mostly to accommodate the kids and me. He sacrificed his own desire for a relaxing, traffic-free weekend.
The plan was to leave by 5 AM today to get a head start on the traffic. I didn’t think the drive would be too bad. Between Edric and me, this is where I usually miscalculate and he knows better. We had a late night watching Lion King yesterday so with just four hours of sleep, we managed to be out of the house closer to 6 AM rather than our target departure time.
All seemed well for the first half hour. The kids were excited and Edric was in good spirits considering what little sleep he had. We prayed for safe travel and no traffic. However, as we neared the entrance to NLEX it was the nightmare Edric envisioned. Bumper to bumper, and endless stretches of cars, trucks, and busses crawling miserably in the same direction we were headed.
This is when Edric nearly lost it. “I knew it! This was my worst fear! Argh! This is why I don’t like travel during Holy Week!”
He went on and on for a few minutes, and he was beginning to sound more unsettling than the traffic. I knew he was vacillating between pushing through the madness or heading back home. But, we had a van full of eager kids, and everything carefully and thoughtfully packed. Our children had obediently put their things in suitcases and gone to bed early last night. They even slept in the clothes they were planning to wear today so they could jump right out of bed and into the van this morning. So I was really really hoping that Edric wouldn’t change the plans and give in to his frustration, although, if he had, we would have understood.
No one likes to travel at 15 kilometers per hour to get to a destination that is only 80 kilometers away. As I anticipated Edric’s pronouncement that the vacation would be cut short, he started listening to worship songs and his Bible app instead. He turned quiet.
I fell asleep for a little bit and when I woke up, Edric was still at the wheel, his face calm and his posture relaxed, an obvious contrast to the aggressiveness that possessed him just a hour before. What happened?
He said, “I realized that I had a choice to be miserable and upset, as well as complain the whole way. Or, I could choose to be thankful to the Lord, to be thankful that we are on vacation, riding in a van with air-conditioning, with our kids who are healthy and well.”
While listening to the Messiah song of Francesca Batistelli he also added, “If Christ endured the cross for me, I can certainly endure six hours of traffic!”
In fact, he nearly teared as he said this. That’s when I realized how hard it must have been for him to wrestle with the irritation and then surrender his feelings and expectations to the Lord. He was that mad at the traffic! And then he was that liberated from the anger because he changed his attitude and perspective.
How wonderful it is that God can take an experience like sitting in traffic to minister to our hearts! He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
We are still two hours away from our destination but I am sitting in a van with a peaceful husband whose enjoying uplifting music, and exemplifying to the kids and me how the right attitude can change everything.
Here he is doing a funny face as he dances to the music…
Amazingly, after Edric’s realizations, the highway cleared significantly, too!
God doesn’t put us in uncomfortable situations because he delights in our misery. He intends to build our character and make us spiritually fit. He knows that Edric struggles with patience and a temper so He allows him to be in situations where he gets to work on both of these. (Edric has openly admitted this from the pulpit so I am not sharing a secret here.) God knows I struggle with pride and selfishness so He made me a mom and wife, where this ugliness inside of me gets exposed, and I must choose to die to it every day.
I praise God that He loves Edric and me, and ALL OF YOU so much that He won’t stop the character training.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
I think about my own children and I would do the same for them. When character issues are revealed, I am committed to helping them grow in these areas for their future good.
Today, I learned from Edric’s example to be receptive to the work of the Lord in my life amidst people and circumstances. It may be normal to resist at first, but will I choose to keep grumbling and complaining like a spoiled and entitled brat? Or, will I say, “Okay, Lord, I will be grateful, I will cooperate with what you are doing. I will see your hand in this and I will learn the lessons and truths you want me to because I know you love me.”
Lord, help me to do the latter! Help me to trust that you are doing what is right and best for me. Help me to repent and change in the ways I need to so I can truly live! As you said it in Ezekiel, “The people of Israel keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people of Israel, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I. ‘Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!'” (Ezekiel 18:29-32)