As most of you know, on Monday I took the dreaded driver’s test. I had a little trouble going to sleep the night before going through all the possible scenarios, trying to remember the course, and mentally taking note of all the things I needed to do to pass.
The day of I made sure to pray with both my mom and dad, read some of Grace Fox’s book Moving From Fear to Freedom (which helped), re-read Isaiah 43 and Psalm 91 to remember God’s truth (which also really helped), and took some homeopathic chamomile which helps with nerves. After all that, I felt mostly prepared.
We drove down there, and went through the route one more time. Then we parked and waited. I tapped my finger on the steering wheel, and popped a piece of gum in my mouth to keep from biting my lip.
Soon the driving instructor arrived, and I sucked in a breath-sending up one last hasty prayer asking for help. She got in the car, and almost immediately set me at ease. Almost.
Having heard several horror stories from my friends about driving instructors who were stern and silent, I was expecting the same with this lady. However, she surprised me by being both friendly and talkative. Before we ever left she was asking me about what I was going to do for Halloween, what I was doing now for school, etc. This definitely helped set me at ease, but I showed my nervousness when she told me to pull out from the parking lot. I struggled to switch gears for a few seconds, wondering why nothing was happening.
Then I remembered. I hadn’t started my car yet.
Sheepishly, I turned the key and looked at her askance. “I forgot I turned off my car.”
Oh, nice save Lizzie. “I forgot I turned off my car”? Brilliant.
At this moment, I think the instructor realized I was pretty nervous (yeah, ya think?), and reassured me by saying, “A lot of people get nervous because it’s a test. But I’m probably the most laid back instructor you’ll ever have.”
If you were inside my head at this moment when she said that, you would have heard the hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. If anyone ever needed a laid back instructor, I did.
After I actually started the car, the drive went incredibly smooth. The instructor took the exact same route my sister had helped me practice on, so I knew every move before she gave them. By the way, I have to take just a moment and congratulate myself on my acting skills: I don’t think the instructor knew for a moment that I already knew the route. I’m tellin’ you-an Oscar is in order for that one!
It was about a fifteen minute drive (it was supposed to be ten, but I was being insanely cautious and going a little below the speed limit), and then we were back. I put it in park and anxiously awaited her verdict.
She looked down at her paper and wrote something as she spoke. “You did a really good job…”
“You looked over your shoulder when you changed lanes, stopped at the appropriate places…”
“You did make a couple of wide right turns, and when we went through the Thru Street you should have looked down it to see if anyone was coming…”
“But everyone does that. You’re allowed twenty points before you fail, and you only got four. I think you’re ready. You passed.”
Oh, the happy jig that started in my heart with just those two little words! I had prayed to get no points whatsoever, but I could deal with four out of twenty. Besides, the goal was to pass. And I’d passed!
She signed the document for me to take to the DMV, and we both stepped out of the car so my dad could pay her for the test. As the three of us stood there, we all caught sight of the same thing at the same moment. After a few seconds of silence the driving instructor said, “Well, good thing I don’t give points for parking, huh, dad?”
I had parked my car sideways across two parking spots.
Really, Lizzie? Really?
It was embarrassing at the time, but I think it’s hilarious now. That’s me, all right! Starting with a good impression, and ending on a positive note!
My dad, sister, and I went to the DMV as soon as my test was over, so I now officially have my license! I couldn’t stop grinning all day yesterday. I had that song from My Fair Lady on replay in my head with some amendments: “I did it, I did it, I did it, I said that I would do it, and indeed I did! I thought that I would rue it-I doubted I’d do it- but now I must admit it that succeed I did.”
I also went driving for my first time alone yesterday. Some friends invited me to go have coffee last minute, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gone driving alone for a little while yet. There’s still some things I feel I need to learn (like parking), and had my friends not called I probably would have waited. But once they called, I agreed hesitantly to meet them. After all, I was on a roll. I’d already taken on one challenge that day. Why not take up another? I couldn’t very well tell them no the day I’d gotten my license. What would be the point of that? Besides, it seemed like a God-thing. It was like He was giving me another opportunity to reach my full potential.
The drive went very well, and I even parked successfully at Starbucks!
It was just an amazing, surreal feeling. I got my license. I drove by myself to meet friends for coffee, and I didn’t have to rely on my parents to get there when I wanted to leave. I just did it!
There’s still a few skills I need to refine (like parking), and there’s still a bit of nerves remaining, but I’ve gained a lot of confidence. I passed the driver’s test which means I am at least capable. The lady said she thought I was ready. I drove by myself and didn’t do anything dumb. Most of all, I know now more than ever that I am not alone. The Great I Am goes with me.
My God showed up for me on Monday in a mighty way, as He always does. I beat this fear through the strength and peace that Christ alone can give. The only reason I felt confident enough to drive alone was because I knew I wasn’t going alone. The Lord would be with me watching over me, as well as guiding and directing me.
I know it was because of your prayers I was so calm. Normally, my nerves would have gotten the best of me. While the nerves didn’t go completely away, I was calm when it mattered. I didn’t get sick to my stomach, and I passed.
Thank you to every single one of you for going on this journey with me, for praying for me, and for leaving your sweet, encouraging comments. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.
When I first started blogging about this fear, I was very afraid of being judged and rejected. I thought people wouldn’t understand, and I was very worried of what others would think of me. But what I found was something entirely different.
I found people who were what real friends ought to be: encouraging, supportive, and there to cheer me onward, not to drag me down. I had one friend who sent me a key chain to encourage me. Another who sent me a visor clip decorated with a mustard seed and cross. For, “Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.” (Matthew 17:20.) People were praying for me, and lifting me up when I was down. You’re more than just my readers now: you’re my friends. I cannot thank you enough for how you showed the body of Christ to me, even if just over the internet. Thank you so, so much. I hope one day to pass along the same love you gave to me.
At the beginning of this year, I prayed and asked God to help me have a year free of fear. I asked Him to help me conquer my fear of driving, and I wanted to be free of it in 2011. Honestly, a lot of times I doubted it would happen, as you all well know. You’ve been on this journey with me. You know I had my ups and downs. But God is so gracious and faithful. He keeps His promises, and He answered my prayer. He gave me the peace that surpasses all understanding. He rescued me when I felt as if I were drowning. Who can I thank but God that my little sister knew the route and could remember it so I could practice? Without it, I think I would have been ten times more tense and less able to do a good job. Who was it that brought me such great friends through you, my readers?
Through this experience, I learned this truth again: that even when I have given up on myself, God has not given up on me.
Going by the title of this post, you may think it’s only been thirteen days that I’ve worked to overcome this fear. In reality, it’s been more like four years I’ve struggled with it. To be free of it now-to have my license and to be driving-is a surreal feeling! But here’s what I want you to know: the same can be true for you. You are not alone in your fear, whatever it is. If you’ve been afraid of sharing it, afraid of people not understanding or rejecting you because of it, know there is freedom in the light and in the truth. You have God and me on your side. You are never alone. You may have been struggling with the fear of trying to overcome your drug addiction, of facing your eating disorder, or your fear of others thinking you’re a bad mom or dad because you struggle with your temper. Maybe you’ve struggled with it for years. You may think it’s too late-that there’s no hope and that it’s impossible.
But if I can do it, you can, too. I thought the same with my fear of driving. It was very hard for me to see the end. But I’m here to tell you that through God’s power: I made it! What was once impossible was made possible through His grace in my weakness. Don’t give up. You may have still have a bit of a struggle before you, but you can overcome. No matter how many years your fear has been tormenting you: you can overcome through Him who gives you the strength, and I’m witness to that. Forever and always, I’ll testify to His unfailing love. After all, I’ve seen it in action.