On Tests and Driving
As you may be able to surmise from the caps-locked atrocity below (and as I will explain much more clearly later on), I had a little bit of excitement today involving vehicles and tests. The result excited me so much, in fact, that my energy level has been all over the map today and I couldn’t focus enough to write a coherent sentence until I had banished all of the silliness in my brain onto the page. Unfortunately for you, my brother was in the room to witness said silliness and he made me promise to unleash it upon the Internet at large by including it in this post, so here it is:
AS YOU MAY KNOW I AM A GUD DRYVER. SUM LADIE TOLDE ME THAT TODAY BECUZ SHE GAVED ME THE TEST FOR DRYVER AND I PAST IT WITH LOST OF POINT. SHE TOLED ME TO GO TO THE SEKERTARRY OF STAYTES AND THEN I COULD HAD MY LISENS. I WILL DO THAT ON THE DAY THAT IS NOT TODAY OR THE NEXT ONE BUT IT IS AFTER THOSE ONES BUT IT IS NOT MORE AFTER THEM THAN ONE DAY. SO WHEN I DO IT THEN I CAN DRYVED BY MYSELVE BUT UNTIL I DO IT THEN I CAN ONLY DRIVE WITH MOMMY AND DADDY AND MAYBE ANDREW IF HE WILL SIT STILL AND NOT CRY OR SCREEM. SO I WILL DO IT ON THAT SOON DAY AND THEN I WILL BE ON THE ROAD AND I AM THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CAR AND THE PEEPOL IN THE OTHER CAR WILL LOOKED AND SAY “THAT GUY IS ALL ALONE IN HIS CAR AND HE IS DRYVING IT WITH NOT ANYONE IN HIS CAR EXEP HE IS IN HIS CAR AND DRIVING IT WHAT A GROWN UP GUY WHO IS DRIVING ALL ALONED LIKE THAT.” I WILL LOOKED FORWORDS TO THAT SOON DAY AND WHEN THE PEEPOL SAYS THAT I WILL LOOKED IN THEM EYE AND SAID “YES I AM SUCH GROWNED UP NOW AND I DRYVES PLACES LIKE THIS WITH NO ONE IN THE CAR EXEP I AM IN THE CAR ALL OF THE TIMES THAT I DRYVED SOMEWHERE. CAN YOU DID THAT?” AND THEY WILL SAID “NO I AM SO ASHAME OF OURSELVES” AND DRYVED AWAY WITH THEIR HEADS ALL SLUMPY IN ASHAME. I AM SO CUNGRADULAYSHUNNED AND SO SHUDD YOU.
All right, now that you have a headache and a sudden urge to apply whiteout to your computer screen, on with the real post. A little bit of history for those of you who don’t stalk me enough to know the mundane details of my life (B, you can probably skip ahead a few sentences): a few months ago, I went to finally take my driver’s test after I was finished jumping rapidly back and forth between college in Chicago and work at Lake Ann Camp. I went with my younger brother Jonathan, who took the driving portion first and did just fine. I, on the other hand, failed miserably because of two things: 1.) I panicked and forgot who had the right of way at a traffic light and scared my senile and wheezy instructor halfway closer to death, and 2.) the transmission in the Saturn gave out shortly thereafter and I couldn’t drive faster than thirty.
At the end of the test, I was furious – furious at myself, furious at the cranky, intimidating old instructor, furious at the clearly prejudiced white Saturn, and furious at the world for the cruel irony of watching my little brother gain his license before me, an equally capable driver. After the initial frustration subsided, I realized that I needed to ignore my wounded pride and its whining, take the opportunity to learn a little humility, and give the test another try. The only problem there, of course, was that I was now incredibly nervous and uncertain about the whole giving-the-test-another-try part. The sting of failure may subside quickly, but the fear of failing again is a much more persistent foe, and after we set the date for my next attempt at ferrying a stranger about Newaygo without causing an accident, that fear hung over my head like a vulture, just waiting to swoop down and assault me with I-told-you-so-s in the event of my clearly inevitable second failure.
I managed to hide the worry well until last night, the eve of the test, when everyone in my family could tell that there was something wrong. That’s when my Dad gave me some invaluable advice. I told him that I knew that I could do it, that I just needed to push past the fear and get it done, and he said, “Well, don’t try to do it in your own strength.”
To be honest, I get sick of Christian phrases like that sometimes, not because I don’t believe that they’re true, but because our community uses the exact same words to express eternal truths so frequently and so flippantly that we tend to lose sight of the fact that the things they express are true, and they are vital. We talk about sharing our burdens and going before the throne and seeking God’s face all the time, but I sometimes wonder if we even know exactly what we’re saying anymore, or if we just say those phrases because that’s how Christians are supposed to talk, as if we have some secret codebook of sayings and we have to make sure we get them verbatim or the other members of the club will look at us funny.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and hopefully I’ll be able to articulate those thoughts well enough for a full post on the matter a little while later, but for now the point that I’m trying to make is that while the exact words my father used are often all too easy to gloss over, the truth that he expressed was anything but trite, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. As Dad’s namesake, the Apostle Paul, so aptly put it, if God is for us, who could hope to stand against us? Why would we ever need to be afraid of anything if we know that God, who can do anything, is actively working to bring about what is best for us? And why would I try to push past that fear by trying to convince myself that I can do it when the truth that God can do it is all I need to put that fear to rest?
My pride rankles against the idea that I am not my own, that God has the right to dictate my actions, and that I am not enough on my own, that I can’t succeed at all I set out to do (or always make the best decisions about what I should set out to do in the first place). My pride, however, is forgetting two important things: 1.) It has a serious track record of messing up my life and I don’t care what it rankles against, it needs to shut up and go back to its corner right now, and 2.) if I am not my own than I am not on my own, and if I am not on my own than I don’t have to be enough. If I can be humble enough (something God conveniently helped me out with during the first test) to admit that I need God, then He promises that I will have Him. What more could I ever need?
After a lot of prayer and practice last night and this morning, I pulled up to the parking lot where the test instructor waited, let my Dad out of the car, and proceeded to take the test. I bumped one cone on the parking, drove for twenty minutes or so without issue, and came back to the parking lot. The instructor (a very friendly lady this time, which was a huge improvement over Wheezy McHalfdead, who had apparently retired shortly after I tested with him) informed me that I had managed to rack up a grand total of three points during the test. Three. It takes somewhere in the vicinity of twenty to fail. Was it frustrating to get it wrong the first time? Yes. Was it worth what I learned and experienced in the end? I would certainly say so. Besides, that’s all behind me now – from here on out, I can dryved myselve.