Over a period of 8 weeks, I had driven 7 different vehicles, in three different countries. Some that could fit into a small parking spot and others that needed 2 spots to park across. While each one was very different, they all had the same purpose, to get me from one place to another. I have been driving for 35 years but I was surprised by how different each of them was and found things I had never encountered in a vehicle before. I had to make some quick mental shifts from manual to automatic gears where the reverse always seemed to be in a different place. The handbrakes were all over the place; on the left-hand side, the right hand-side, on the floor or on the dashboard and were either a lever, a button, or a step pedal. The vehicles ran on diesel, petrol, or batteries. The indicator and wind screen wipers were constantly on the opposite side of the previous vehicle, and I incessantly chose the wrong one at the wrong time. Sometimes the vehicle was left-hand drive and other times it was right. And of course, I needed to remember which side of the road I needed to drive on. In all my years of driving I had never driven a ‘hybrid’ and in these 8 weeks I have driven 2 and both were completely different from each other. I still have no idea what a “hybrid synergy drive” is or what the “B” button is used for!
Some of the vehicles I chose and some I was thrown into by circumstances. I jumped into them during the day and some during the night in darkness. Sometimes I was under pressure to be somewhere and needed to get a move on or had to follow someone else or had someone watch as I drove away, checking that I knew what I was doing. Mostly I had very little time to get used to it, I just had to simply jump in and drive. For the first 20 minutes, I was so uncomfortable, filled with self-doubt and asking myself, ‘can I do this?’ and, ‘why is this is so different?” or, “why can’t it just be like my car?”. In those initial moments I felt clueless and very uneasy, often travelling roads I had never been on before and covering new territory.
One morning, I drove from where I was staying to my destination, with the parking brake alarm dinging at me even though the ‘P’ was not highlighted. When I got out of the car, I could smell that it had been on, as I sheepishly walked toward my destination I heard a voice call to me, “You’re late!”. It was on old friend being cheeky, but all I was thinking was, “he knows I had my park brake on and can smell what I have done to the car”.
When you are beginning a new journey, you may know exactly how this feels. This might be how you feel as you start to do things with all ages together. It may feel like you are getting into a new vehicle and all your past experiences and confidence have quickly deflated. It is okay to feel uncomfortable when you jump into something new. It’s like all those years ago when you first learnt to drive, so many moving parts and the roads are a dangerous place to be if you don’t know what you are doing.
Consider what you say to yourself when you are launching into a new situation and feel panic starting to rise. I notice my self-talk, remind myself to breathe and tell myself, ‘You got this; it is just a vehicle to take you from one place to the other, it has all the same elements that any car has - an engine, 4 wheels, a seatbelt, and a steering wheel. It is safe, reliable and it will do its job. You just need to make a few small re-adjustments to what you have been used to doing. All you need to do is pivot, check through all the essentials and trust your instinct, you got this!”.
When we start to look through the lens of intergenerational thinking across all that we do, we find that the vehicle is still taking us to the same place; the message is still trustworthy and will continue to do its job, but this new vehicle, once you make a few pivots and re-adjustments, will take ALL along the road of transformation and discipleship as a family. Just because it is a little uncomfortable to begin with, doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Yes, you may mistakenly leave the parking brake on once or twice, but once you work it out, it will become an exciting drive.
My hope is that you have the courage and willingness to push past, “But I have never done it this way before” and jump in and give it a go and let’s see where we ALL get to, as we drive the intergenerational vehicle on this faith journey road together. I believe you too will begin to travel new roads and discover new territory, as you press into doing life across the ages and bring new life to the family of God here on earth as it is in heaven.