One day at a time

Originally Appeared in : 9812-6/7/18

If you’ve ever trained a child to drive, you have experienced true terror. You too know the feeling of absolute fear and trembling as you careen down the highway at overwhelming speed. 


I don’t care if you’re actually on a country backroad going right around 35, by the way. Something about teaching your own flesh and blood to finagle a motorized vehicle makes life feel like a scene from "Speed," starring you-the-mom in the role of Sandra Bullock.


The anxiety, I’ve come to believe, is from the lack of control. You teach a child to drive and then over time he or she must prove worthy and capable of the task. The first few times out, maybe while driving in a parking lot or right within the neighborhood, it seems easier to give directions and relax (relatively speaking). But then you eventually have to allow the child to drive on a bigger road and then (gasp) go off by himself.


This part of the equation I wasn’t exactly ready for. Our oldest son Ethan had gotten his license and I found myself coming up with excuses to avoid letting him drive. I would offer to drive him places or find ways to go along. I was scared. Even though he had proven himself worthy of being a driver (according to the Department of Motor Vehicles), I didn’t want to find out the hard way they were wrong.


I was talking with a friend one day who has a son Ethan’s age. She found herself doing the same thing and her husband finally said, “Look, we’re either doing this thing or we’re not.” Meaning: Our son has a license, let’s let him use it.


And so I began the difficult and gut-wrenching task of learning to trust. It’s scary. You have to choose it, to watch and make sure your child is worthy of your trust, and from there begin to learn how to give him that trust he’s actually earned.


All of these thoughts came back to me this week when Paul and I were driving in the country in his truck and I noticed how much more relaxing it is to ride with someone whose driving you trust completely. Driving with your husband is typically much more relaxing than driving with your teenage son. Paul’s proven himself to be a good driver over our many years of riding together.


It was on that same car ride when I looked over and saw a bumper sticker on the vehicle next to us: One Day At A Time. I’ve seen that slogan so many times and have probably sung the song even more. But this time, as a woman about to have another son graduate from high school, as a mom of six, as a wife and book author and manager of all the things I have going on - well this time I really thought about it.


Living one day at a time feels irresponsible sometimes. I can’t only focus on today because I have a menu to plan and a party to buy supplies for. There are all kinds of deadlines that require me thinking ahead and not just sitting here enjoying this moment right now.


But while I can be proactive and take care of what I need, I can also learn to trust that God has everything under his care. I can handle my part and do what I need to do, and I can stop short of thinking worry and fear need to be part of the equation.


If you’ve ever had the opportunity to trust God — really trust him, like you can’t do it all and you have to rely on his providence — then you’ve probably learned that he actually does take care of us as he says he will.


When we give God the opportunity to earn our trust, we really can live one day at a time. We can admit that there is no way to have it all figured out, that there are problems we can’t figure out how to solve. But we can somehow travel with God on the journey and trust that he will be an important part of getting us where we need to go. 


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at

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