Anxiety, Traffic, and the Lord

I can not stand to be late. I don’t know why or if I have always been this way, but being late drives me crazy. It means, of course, that I am usually early to everything… even those events where it is not cool to be early. I do not seem to know the meaning of being “fashionably late”. This can be a good thing – it means that, in most cases, you can expect me to be on time for everything. If you are having a party, you can probably safely assume I am out in my car waiting until I see others walk in. This can also be a bad thing – it can often mean an increase in anxiety when I think I might possibly be late for something. And that’s just not good for anyone.

Earlier this week, I overbooked myself and my family. I ran from one thing to the next to the next in exactly enough time to just make it to each place. For the most part, it worked out well for me. I actually ended up making it easily to the first place and the second. The third, however… was not as easy. The third required me to go from picking up all the boys in two different places and then to swimming lessons in a third place all in less than an hour. Oh, and when I got there, I had to dress everyone (or really “encourage” them to dress themselves super-fast). Realistically, if all the lights and cars complied, we would make it to swimming lessons with 10 minutes to spare. And of course everything was probably going to go just fine. But in my brain, there was so much potential that we would not make it there in time… so many little variables. I could almost feel the anxiety well up in me instantly as I started out to pick up the first kid and then the next two. And when this anxiety manifests in the car, it means that some of it inevitably spills out verbally. I didn’t realize how much until one of my sons piped up and said “Mama, if all these cars would just move out of our way, we would get to lessons in time. Move cars!” Oh geez. Knowing I would probably regret this later, I found myself saying “Just don’t listen to mommy right now, boys.”

The thing is, my waze app was telling me we would be just fine. But, every red light we hit, the minutes on the bottom of the screen just kept creeping up and I felt even more anxiety build inside of me. I knew the starting point, and I knew the ending point. And realistically, I knew what I had been told so many times before – it is all gonna be okay, you will get there and they will swim and no one will care if you are just a few minutes late. But internally, I could see how far away the end of the trip was, I could see the lines and lines of cars in front of me, and I just didn’t believe it.

In the Gospel today for the 6th Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves back at the Last Supper. Six weeks ago, the Lord rose from the dead, and His friends got to rejoice in discovering that all He said was true. And now suddenly we are back, listening to the Lord tell His disciples (and us) once again “You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’… And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

We are reminded that the Lord told the disciples (told us) that it would all be okay. We are reminded that the Lord said “I’m going away… but I AM COMING BACK.” Still, even though the disciples had heard this… even though they knew deep down that they would not have to wait forever to see their friend again… even though they knew there was an end to their suffering and sadness… they still were afraid. They still doubted. They still looked at the road before them and saw all the obstacles in the way between themselves and that final destination of joy.

Again and again, year after year, we re-live the Paschal Mystery of Christ. We journey with Him down the road to Calvary, we watch Him die on the cross, and we wait, alongside the apostles, for Him to rise again. We hear the familiar sounds of the angst and worry of the apostles as they wait for their friend to return and we often want to shout “Don’t worry! He comes back! He comes back!” And, then we inevitably get to watch as they rejoice in His return. Yet still, when we face the same sadness, anxiety, or stress over the unknown in our own stories… we fail to recognize that in the end… it is going to be okay for us as well. We hear Jesus say clearly that He will return, but the truth we need to accept is, He is back already and He never really left us. He is sitting next to us in our sorrow and our joy. He is in the passenger seat weaving through life with us and instead of “I’ll come back. I’ll come back” He is saying “I am here. I am here.”

May we be able to recognize the Lord traveling with us as we continue to live through the messy traffic of our lives… and may we allow ourselves to hear the Lord’s voice clearly in our hearts.

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