A couple of days ago my friend, Laurie, was lamenting that her car was in desperate need of a good cleaning, but she can't go because her toddlers are terrified.
Honestly, I don't remember much about my trio's first two years--but her comment reminded me of the sheer terror a trip through the car wash could cause in them. I wanted to help them overcome their fear, so I tried a couple of different things. I turned up fun music. I tried to explain how it worked. I even attempted to rationalized with three two year olds. (I was naive!) Nothing worked. The darkness, the blasts of water, the thumping of the scrubbers, the surge of foamy soap were noisy, unpredictable and scary. Their loving parent was driving the car, but it was not enough to alleviate their fear.
I was at a loss for how to help my people and chalked it up to a passing phase until the day we stumbled upon a different car wash in another part of town. This ordinary errand turned into a field trip of sorts as we were required to exit our vehicle and go inside while it was cleaned. The unique feature of this particular establishment was a long hall of windows looking into the car wash. K, P & R were intrigued by the opportunity to watch our car 'magically' roll through. They squealed with delight as it was rinsed, sudded, scrubbed and rinsed again. The very same process that had formerly terrified them now had context. We returned to my less expensive car wash a few weeks later and their fear had subsided. Going through the car wash was now somewhat predictable. They never expressed fear about it again.
They needed a change in perspective--and because this is a metaphor about a car wash that was possible. Unfortunately, it is not always so in life.
We frequently find ourselves in circumstances akin to being strapped in the backseat while someone else drives through a dark car wash tunnel we do not understand. What is that sound? What does that mean? What is going to happen next? Is this safe?
If we could just get outside and see the process from the perspective of a spectator, instead of a frightened participant, it could effect everything. In many situations that is not realistic, but I think it's a great challenge. May we remember the scary things which can seem randomly thrown our way are a part of a larger process--the story being written through our lives--ultimately for our betterment.
We must have what my toddlers lacked--faith in the architect of the process, trust in the driver who lovingly leads us in (and out) of those dark places and courage to hold on until we make it to the other side.