I live in the southern suburbs of Nashville, TN. My office, however is in the heart of downtown. If I leave my house at the wrong time, it could take me upwards of an hour to reach my desk. And if there’s an accident? Forget about it! According to the census bureau, 10.8 million Americans travel more than an hour each way to work. Alan Pisarski, in his book, Commuting in America indicated that in 2011, the average commute was 25 minutes.
I often arrive at the office feeling stressed, like I have wasted time, and behind on my work before the day even gets started. And I’m not alone. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed Americans about their daily commute and found the longer the commute, the higher the levels of obesity, cholesterol, pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Can you relate?
I believe however that our commutes can actually relieve stress and serve a redemptive purpose in our lives. Here are 5 ways to make the most of that drive time:
Sounds obvious and like a Sunday School kind of thing to say. But often the excuse I make in my mind for not praying more is that I don’t have time. Duh! I have almost an hour twice a day. Since I’ve intentionally leveraged this time to pray, some of the most intensely focused and passionate prayer times have come while I drive.
Bart Millard, lead singer of Mercy Me, would lead worship from time to time at a church I previously served. I would often think, “Man, if I could sing like Bart, I would never shut up.” But, let’s face it, I can’t. And neither can you. Therein lies a major reason we sometimes don’t sing with reckless abandon in church– fear of being well… bad. But, think about it, your commute is one of the few times you can make a stress free joyful noise. Don’t miss the opportunity. Click on your favorite worship album or Christian radio station and let loose.
3. Listen and Learn
I recently heard my friend Johnny Hunt, pastor of FBC Woodstock, GA say, “85% of men haven’t read a book since graduation.” I can’t verify that stat. But it doesn’t surprise me. Though reading is essential to my spiritual growth, I have to discipline myself to do it. Personally I would rather listen or watch than read. So in this regard my frustrating commute becomes an opportunity. During my drive, I often listen to podcasts, scripture through the Bible app on my phone, sermons from pastors I trust, and audio books through the Audible app.
4. Make phone calls
I schedule as many phone calls as I can for times I will be in the car for a couple of reasons. First, it’s just a way I can streamline my time and be slightly more efficient with my day. And maybe more importantly, It allows me to be all in with my family when I get home instead of catching up on some calls.
5. Enjoy the Quiet
Just this morning I had set my alarm to wake me before anyone else in my house. I wanted to spend some time praying, reading the Word and just enjoying a few minutes of quiet before my day got going. Literally as soon as I made my way to my chair, I heard what sounded like elephants in my house. Both of my boys along with the dog were rumbling down the stairs. And the quiet was definitely over!
If you’re like me, you need quiet, you even long for it. But it seems more and more elusive each day. Imagine the good it would do for your soul if you sat in the quiet during your drive recognizing things like the clouds, the beauty of the landscape, the glimpses of God’s handiwork around us that often buzz by.
What would you add to the list?