This weekend marked 3 months since Ike and I got married. And an awesome 3 months it has been! We’ve had a ton of fun together, but we’ve also learned a lot about one another and ourselves in the process.
In particular, I’ve realized that I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to driving. You see, I’m finding myself in the role of passenger more often than I ever have before. Ike almost always drives, and this is hard for me. We’ll be driving some place that I’ve been a million times, but then, horror of horrors, he decides to take a different route. He turns left where I would have turned right. He takes the interstate instead of the back roads. It starts to drizzle but he doesn’t turn on his windshield wipers because he “claims” he can still see out the windshield.
As a result of these decision-making discrepancies, I continually find myself asking gentle yet immasculatingly annoying questions like, “Love, don’t you think you need to turn your lights on at this point in the day?” or “Did you mean to take that turn? This route seems a little out of the way.” It usually bugs him when I ask questions like that so I’m trying to stop, but it’s really hard. Many times I would do things very differently from him. And as a passenger, I feel completely out of control.
The ironic thing about this situation is that Ike is actually a far superior driver. It’s not that I’m a bad driver, but he’s got a great sense of direction and spatial awareness. He can drive through heavy traffic and parallel park more adeptly than I can. He doesn’t get lost as easily. And he has an almost psychic ability to find parking spaces in a packed lot. He’s pretty much better in every possible way.
Why, then, do I feel this need to be in control when he is clearly the better driver? Why do I have to be in the driver’s seat, or at least making navigational calls from the passenger’s seat? Why can’t I just trust him?
This predicament confronted me head on when we went to Chicago last weekend. We were checking out schools for his PhD work next year, and we could only afford for one of us to drive the rental car. Because of our schedule it had to be me, so I soon found myself in the position of navigating unfamiliar, frantic Chicago highways in a tiny black Ford Focus. My GPS was essentially worthless with all the tunnels, my car was about half the size of every other vehicle on the road, and for some reason about 4 exit ramps in a row were all closed for construction–thereby trapping me on the Chicago highway of peril. By the time I made it to Union Station in downtown Chicago, I wanted to curl up in the fetal position. I wanted Ike to drive.
And therein lies my dilemma. On the one hand, I like driving because I can do it my way. I can go the ways I think are best. I can know that all the hazards are being accounted for. But if Ike drives, we are arguably safer. It is more reasonable and wise to put him in the driver’s seat.
As I wove through a confusing alignment of orange barrels directing me to who knows where, I reflected on all this. What makes more sense? For me to be in control, or surrender control to someone who’s a better, safer driver? The obvious answer is the latter.
It’s then that I realized my whole driving saga was not only an analogy for my marriage, but my relationship with God as well. In the case of my marriage, I like to be in control of my life but God blessed me with someone who complements my personality and abilities. He’s strong where I’m weak, he’s patient when I’m short-tempered, and he’s intuitive when I’m oblivious. Knowing all this, I can either trust my husband, or maintain my independence. I can either benefit from our arrangement, or I can reject it.
But it’s also significant to note that while I was driving through Chicago, my sense of personal control actually resulted in greater fear. What a picture of the Christian life! When we try to control our lives instead of submitting our cares to God, our sense of control is fleeting. Deep down, you know that you don’t really have control. Unlike God, you don’t have the power to orchestrate all things for good in your life. You can’t anticipate how everyone will treat you and what unexpected life circumstances will transpire. That’s why being in control of your life is the most terrifying place to be. It places a tremendous burden on your shoulders that you were never meant to bear, and it sets you up for disappointment. On a human level, control is little more than an illusion. The only person capable of claiming TOTAL control is God.
This is a hard reality for me to swallow, not only when it comes to God but especially in my marriage. It’s a lot more difficult to trust my husband because he’s an imperfect human being just like me. It’s one thing to trust God, the perfect Creator of the Universe, and quite another to trust someone who makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his lap while using his knees to steer.
But surrendering control and trusting my husband is ultimately another means for trusting God. I trust that God gave my husband to me for a reason, and I need to learn from him. I trust that my husband is a provision of God’s grace in my life, and I need to embrace that grace.
This principle is also true for other areas of my life. Nearly every life circumstance, major decision, temptation or trial confronts us with the question: Do you want to be in control, or God? It took a terrifying journey down I-90 for me to realize that I really do want my husband in the driver’s seat. As much as I like to drive and make the decisions, it’s also a lot scarier that way.
And it’s the same in life. We can choose to be in the driver seat. We can choose a trip of greater anxiety and greater danger. We have that choice. But wouldn’t you rather hand the controls over to someone with THE perfect driving record? (…Pardon the cheesy analogy…) I know that I would, and I’ll remember that the next time I want my husband to take a different route, or stop making his lunch while driving 70 mph down the interstate. I’ll also remember that the next time I wanna jerk the wheel away from God, who knows infinitely more than I about navigating the obstacles and perils of my life.