Do you remember this song? We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…
My song goes more like, “We’re gonna DIE on the way to the zoo, zoo, zoo”
In fact, the night before this zoo field trip, I told my DH I hoped it would be canceled. Not because of the long day, or tired cries from a 1-year-old, or nagging to buy popcorn – or ice cream – or toys, or even the potential of a lost child. I hoped it was canceled because I was scared to drive there.
It’s an 1.5 hr trip on busy highways to the zoo and all I could picture were skid marks, a minivan smashed beyond recognition, airbags deployed, and 3 lifeless bodies in the car seats. The more I thought about it, the more my heart raced and stomach turned.
I couldn’t picture us coming home that night to tell daddy about the rhinos and monkeys because I was busy imagining us trapped in a burning van. I went to bed determined not to go because of fear.
The next morning, I woke to an email saying the trip had been canceled due to rain!
I felt defeated by worry. I felt ashamed that I was ready to steal a zoo trip from my kids because I was too worried to leave the house and drive. Worry dictated my decision the night before. But it was not going to dictate my decision that day!
Despite the cancellation, I determined to go the zoo. Not because I wanted to see the otters; but because I did not want worry to limit my life – my kid’s lives. I did not want to be a slave to my anxious mind. I did not want to start down the road to agoraphobia…because sometimes the fear is so great it’s more comfortable to stay home. So I loaded the kids up in the van and went through a checklist
- Carseats tightly secured in seats
- Seatbelts buckled appropriately
- Large, loose objects removed from the van floor (this took some time because I have SEVERAL loose objects in my messy van! ) so they wouldn’t pelt the kids in an accident
- Kiss and hug each child as if it were the last time I’d embrace them
- Look directly in their eyes and tell them I love them
I felt like I was in the movie Armageddon preparing to blast into space on a suicide mission! Remember this scene as everyone says goodbye to their loved ones?
Ben Affleck has such passion as he says good-bye to his lady-love. My song was not as upbeat as “Leaving on a Jetplane.”
“We’re gonna die on the way to the zoo, zoo, zoo…“
I said a prayer that was something like:
“Dear God. Please don’t let us get into a car accident on the way to the zoo today. Please help me to be alert and let nothing bad happen. Amen.”
Talk about a worrisome prayer! But you know what? We made it to the zoo. We actually made it to the zoo. My hands hurt from white knuckled driving and my neck was sore from tense shoulders. But we arrived safely at the zoo. We had a great day of fun seeing real lions and tigers and playful otters. Our lives were enriched instead of limited.
I was too tired to worry on the way home. And you know what? We made it home. I didn’t even go through the checklist!
I’m glad I went and overcame worry in a small way. I’ve by no means conquered worry.
But on this day, I did not let worry conquer me.
Praise the Lord! I pray God continues to refine me – especially my prayers in the midst of worries. We are called to pray boldly, not out of fear. My departure prayer was riddled with fear. Maybe next time I go to the zoo I can sing a different song – and pray a different prayer.
Dear God. Thank you for promising to be present with us wherever we go. Thank you that I cannot hide from you – and that I am more valuable to you than flowers and birds. Please help me to rely on you no matter what happens while I drive – whether I get there or not. And if something does happen Lord, walk with me and sustain me. Never leave or forsake me. Continue to reveal your goodness and mercy to me. Amen.