The familiar bumper sticker says, “Please be Patient. Student Driver.” I see them all over town even though my daughter adamantly opposed putting one on our car. Every time I view some version of the student driver warning, I ease off of the gas a little bit so that I don’t put unnecessary pressure on the teenager. But I’ve found that I put unnecessary pressure on myself when it comes to driving. When I’m at a red light turning right, I feel the need to closely monitor the oncoming traffic in case an opportunity arises to enter the road before the light becomes green. In the past, I’ve had people behind me honk because they think I should turn, even when they don’t have a clear view of the cars coming. Usually when I look in the rearview mirror there are no other cars behind me. No one else is actually pressuring me. I’ve internalized the pressure and have made it all my own.
Honestly, though, driving is the least of my worries when it comes to self-imposed, internal pressure. I walk around carrying a lot of burdens, my own and those of other people I love and care about. I feel the constant pressure to do something, analyze the problem, figure it all out. And I struggle with my inability to control things and make them “right” in my eyes. When Ben and I first married, we talked about the need to relax more, and I said, “But what if I lose my edge?” Without missing a beat, Ben replied, “I think it’s okay if you lose a little bit of your edge.” Over the past twenty years, the pressure I experience has changed as my life has evolved but the drain on my mind, heart, and body still exists. I hope I’m less anxious now, but I still feel the constant weight of self-imposed pressure.
I don’t think God wants us to put so much pressure on ourselves. God wants us to live in peace with others but also with ourselves. When we place too much pressure on ourselves, we feel heavy and unsettled. We are not at peace. Apostle Paul said, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3. This verse applies, not only to our relationships with others, but to ourselves. God wants us to be completely humble and gentle with ourselves; be patient with ourselves, bear ourselves in love. God asks us to make every effort to keep ourselves in unity with the Spirit through the bond of peace.
God wants us to release some of the pressure that we impose on ourselves. We can give ourselves a break. We don’t have to be so hard on ourselves all of the time. God desires that we accept the grace and mercy that God freely provides. God is here to support and guide us. Imagine God posting reminder stickers all around us that say, “Be Patient with Yourself. Let Me Drive.”