“Want to go to Sonic, Mom?” Sounds like an innocuous enough question don’t you think? But at our house, it has a deeper meaning. The question is usually asked as we’re driving by the local Sonic on our way to some activity. And it’s always asked by my younger son, Tim, with a wry smile and a glint in his eye.
The Sonic Boom episode happened on one of our (many) trips back from Maine. Almost home from a long day in the car, we decided to stop at a Sonic for dinner. No problem. I like Sonic. I think the drive-in deal is fun, and the tater tots are pretty tasty. In this case, however, the ladies’ room is where the drama occurred. Located with an entrance on the outside of the building, this place was a fortress. It didn’t keep people out, it locked them in. The heavy metal door was such a tight fit, that it wouldn’t budge when I tried to leave. I’m talking stuck. Seriously stuck. I pulled with all my might. I tried to change the angles at which I tugged on the handle. I tried leveraging the pull with my foot on the wall. No go. So, I did what any resourceful woman would do. I reached for my cell phone. Which, I promptly realized, was in the car. So, after contemplating my options, I did the next best thing. I yelled for help. When no one came, I started pounding on the door with all my might, and yelled louder, now that I was just plain MAD! “Boom! Boom! Boom!”
Now, this rest room was just on the opposite side of the internal wall where the order counter was located. So I KNEW they could hear me. In fact, I started to believe that the whole thing was a form of entertainment for the Sonic staff. They were probably splitting a gut laughing on the other side of the concrete while they chalked up another victim on their tally marks on the wall of the restaurant. (Funny how, when we feel trapped, we start to not think well of others.) Speaking of others, where in the world was my family? And with a car full of guys—how long was it going to take for them to notice I was gone? As in for a l-o-n-g time?? Finally, 15 minutes later, my husband Fred showed up at the rest room door. Given the state of mind I was in when he finally came looking for me, he probably wished he had just left me there and driven the rest of the way home. For those of you who are Back to the Future fans, my emergence from the ladies room brings to mind a picture of Doc, only in this case, a female version. A wild-eyed, hair tussled, exasperated Mom.
Today is the 4th of July. A day that we celebrate freedom and independence. But if you are a parent of a child with special needs, those may sound like foreign terms to you. In fact, your life—at times—may feel more like my experience at Sonic. Maybe you feel trapped. And maybe you feel like, no matter how many resourceful methods you try, nothing works. No one seems to hear. No one comes to your aid. But is that really true? So much of feeling trapped is just that. Feelings. Feelings that can be changed through perspective. Take the Sonic rest room, for example. While it is true—I could not exit from the rest room of my own free will—was I in any danger? There was a vent in the room, so I had fresh air. There was a sink in the room, so I had running water. I even had “facilities” if I needed them (again). Was my family going to forget that I was there—forever? Would the Sonic staff (once they stopped laughing) really never enter that room again to at least complete the obligatory hourly rest room cleanliness inspection?
But, most of all—where did I turn first when I realized my options were limited, and I felt trapped? Did I turn to God and seek his help in finding a solution? Or did I wait until I had exhausted all of my logical options? Or did I ever seek him at all? I hate to admit it, but it was the third one. Seeking God’s help never even crossed my mind. I was going to solve this problem myself. Darn it!
When we feel trapped, we are painfully aware of the reality that we are not in control. And this is where the fork in the road lies. Right at this point. We can rapidly descend into a free-fall that foresees only impending disaster and scrambles to regain control. OR…we can remember what is true. That God is ALWAYS in control. And God is ALWAYS good. Therefore, nothing—and I mean nothing—-happens to us that is not within his good and loving and intentional purposes for us. Nothing. If that’s true…then we can stay calm. Sure, we can use logic and resources to help address our problems. But not logic and resources alone. And not even logic and resources first. It’s logic that leans—first and foremost—into the loving Providence of God.
So, if you feel trapped today, lean hard into what is true. Lean hard—first and foremost—into the loving Providence of God. You’ll be amazed how it changes how you feel about where you are, no matter how long you might have to stay there.
“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” —Psalm 145:17-18