3 Lessons from the Backseat Teacher

Red light – stop. Green light – go! Yellow light – hold on to your horses cause we are going!!!! That’s the normal situation on cheerleading nights when we have 45 minutes to grab fast food and get my daughter to class.

One green-yellow-red, another green-yellow-red until we finally made it into the left turn lane to arrive at our destination. My patience was slim and my mind was calculating how many minutes we had to devour our nuggets and fries.

Suddenly, from the backseat, my daughter’s sweet voice said, “Mommy, what does that man’s sign say?” There was a long-haired, full bearded homeless man sitting in the median. His cardboard sign said “Hungry. Homeless. God bless you.”

After I read his message aloud to her, my brain immediately filled up with skeptical thoughts about this innocent man – oh he’s not really hungry or homeless; he just wants money and doesn’t want to work; he probably is a career panhandler taking all these hard working people’s money. I didn’t think twice about my ugly thoughts before I focused back on the stoplight.

Closed-ended dialogue filled the next minute. The sweet voice from the backseat said, “He is hungry. You have money in your wallet. You should give him some.” I said no. “Why not, Mommy. He needs it. He is hungry,” said the sweet voice from the backseat. I said no. “Mommy, let’s help him,” said the sweet voice from the backseat.

Whoa! Her words hit me like a sledgehammer. My daughter’s persistent concern, non-judgmental mind and unconditional love suddenly woke me from my selfish la-la-land and brought me back to reality. My mommy mission is to teach my daughter to live and love like Jesus. In that moment, roles were reversed and I was the student.

Here are the three lessons I learned from the backseat teacher:

  1. I lost sight of my many blessings in the moment of selfish la-la-land. I have the necessities of living – food, water, clothing, warm home. I have freedoms.  I have more than I could have ever dreamed of.  I cannot take my blessings for granted and should always give the glory to Him. A mentality of immunity makes me vulnerable to lose it all.
  2. I judged my brother. I created his life story based on my biases for his cry for help. I don’t know what struggles got him to this place in life. It’s none of my business the why or how of his situation. My job is to a be a light during this dark time in his life.
  3. I need to look for the good in everyone rather than being so skeptical. I need the heart in the backseat, the heart of a child. A heart that has so much love to give, grace to share and optimism to change the world. A heart of a child is like the heart of Jesus. My daughter reminded me to tame my skeptical mind and love one another no matter the circumstances or my biases.

Are you in selfish la-la-land? Do you need a wakeup call from a sweet voice in your backseat? Take time today to define, embrace and love the lessons that you learn every day and use the lessons to be uniquely YOU! Remove you biases and love one another!

Learn the Word:
“Make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give.”
2 Corinthians 9:7  (NIV)

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Romans 12:10 (NIV)

3 thoughts on “3 Lessons from the Backseat Teacher

  1. Heather, I can relate exactly to your sentiments in this experience. My reaction to these situations, it seems, is always skeptical rather than gracious and loving. I needed to hear your daughter’s words and am thankful you shared them.

    I would love to add this link to my Saturday Shares on my blog this week. Thank you for sending it to me via compel! Blessings on your journey.


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