One activity my children always enjoyed was the rare, but always exciting, trip to the car wash.
As a young mom, backing the car out of the garage and letting my two littles help me hose-wash the car was a fun summer activity. But every now and then, the family wagon (yes, station wagon) needed a proper bath, so it was off to the local gas station.
I’d pull up in front of the entrance to adventure, and we’d be greeted by those huge dangling plastic strips that announced that the ride was about to begin. I’d call out, “Are all the windows closed?”, even though I knew they already were. The question really served to grab the attention of my riders, to alert them that the beginning of our adventure was near.
I’d line the left tire up to the track, while neon signs reminded me to put the car in neutral, take my foot off the pedals, and for Pete’s Sake, don’t steer! (Okay…I might have added a little to that last instruction.)
Feeling the first quick jerk, we were off into a loud and foreign land. Water shot from every direction, and as if by magic, soap splattered against the windows like paintballs. Each soap bomb elicited giggles from the backseat.
The real vocal fireworks started when the heavy strips, draped like a theater curtain, started jerking and dancing our way. “It’s the octopus!” they’d scream. Laughter ringing in my ears, we watched the felt spaghetti automatically slosh and wipe away the soap from the car.
A final spray on the car meant – the wind tunnel! Jet propelled streams of air buffeted and rocked the car, blowing water off the car.
I have to admit I liked our trips to the automatic car wash too. It was fun. And to have that fun, I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to steer, accelerate or brake. As a matter of fact, if I tried to drive, it would be a very dangerous trip. Part of the enjoyment of the whole thing was giving up control. Just put the car in neutral, sit back, and for Pete’s Sake, don’t try to steer.
Most of us really like steering. We like having input, being in charge and making choices about our time. But…
I don’t know about you, but this whole control thing gets pretty tiring. Back then, if I heard “What are we doing today?” one more time, I might have to clap my hands over my ears and start singing “Help”. Being in charge absolutely has it’s positives, but it has to be balanced with free time – play time – rest time.
When you start to feel overwhelmed or pressured, maybe it’s God’s way of saying “Take your foot off the pedals.” Your soul is calling out for peace.
How about a walk in the woods? A bike ride. Call a friend. Bake some cookies.
Slip your gearshift in neutral, and take your feet off the pedals. Unplug and enjoy the ride…
And for Pete’s Sake, don’t try to steer.
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