Driving While Mormon

Man driving angrily

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While I drove home yesterday, a pickup truck swerved around me blaring its engine. A minute or so later, at a red light I pulled up directly behind the truck. I resisted the temptation to wave in the driver’s rear view mirror.

This same scenario plays out at least a couple times a week. And if you’ll endure some calculations, it got me thinking. Surely all this swerving and revving must save some time. Occasionally they must catch a red light. What could it average out to? In my completely unscientific estimation I landed at about ten seconds a day. Pshaw I thought, how measly.

But then I began to multiply. Ten seconds a day, over and over again for seventy years worth of driving begins to add up. Over the course of a lifetime, those ten seconds a day become seventy-one hours. Nearly three days of time that could be spent doing other things. I realized that by driving along methodically as I do, I was putting away my life. And suddenly all those swerve and revvers began looking pretty smart. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon, I believe in making the most of life. So I started to ask myself, how should a Mormon be driving?

 That’s when I started imagining what I needed to do to start shaving those ten seconds off of my road trip every day. First of all I’d have to up my miles per hour, take advantage of smaller merging spaces, view other drivers on the road as competitors I needed to get ahead of in order to catch the next light. And suddenly I realized the cost of those ten seconds a day.

I would need to change who I was. I would need to become less safe, and thereby less considerate of those around me. I would need to become aggressive and single minded. I would need to surrender those gentle moments of quiet contemplation and reflection that accompany me on my daily drives. In short, I might gain ten seconds, but I would lose the rest of the drive. And over the course of a lifetime, at a half-hour of driving a day, it would cost me seventy-six. No not seventy-six hours or days, but seventy-six weeks of my life that I would have to spend aggressive, frustrated, and out of sorts. Seventy-six weeks where I would have to put my own needs ahead of everyone else’s.

If we’re going to spend more than a year of our lives driving, we need to ask—and please excuse the triteness—but we need to ask how would Jesus drive? By slowing down, and expressing our faith through the way we drive we can reclaim those many hours we put on the road. We can make them part of our daily worship. I know that the next time I hit the road I will remember that I am driving while Mormon.


Christopher D. Cunningham is the managing editor for Public Square Magazine and contributor to Third Hour. He loves emphatically celebrating the normal healthy development of his sons Albus and Whitman, writing about the Church of Jesus Christ, finding the middle ground on most controversies, and using Western Family generic brand lip balm. Christopher is a proud graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a resident of San Antonio, Texas.