Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Driver's Seat

I knew the first time I got behind the steering wheel of my dad's truck that I wasn't a natural driver. I was 14, it was Christmas Day, and I had gone with him to run an errand. There was snow on the ground and no one on the streets when he asked me if I wanted to try driving. I didn't but said yes anyway. I drove for probably 5 minutes then was finished. Didn't want to do it any more. What was the big deal? Driving, schmiving.

I graduated high school and moved away for college, sans automobile. I walked or rode the bus everywhere and enjoyed the freedom of not driving. When I drove with others, I barely paid attention to what was going on in front or behind the car - I looked out the windows at the shops, people, and landscape around me, content - no, thrilled! - to not be in the driver's seat.

Most of my mission, I didn't have a car, just the last few months. I preferred being without one. I loved walking to appointments, sitting next to people on the bus and metro and talking to them about them, me, the gospel, politics (rarely - heated discussions seldom coincide with the presence of the Spirit, a missionary's main goal in life), and didn't mind the occasional sprint to the bus as it was about to leave our stop - it kept me trim...I gained almost 10 lbs when I had a car. Also, winter in Canada = ice storms = slippery roads, which, combined with my inattention while driving = a couple scary moments filled with prayers consisting of ohpleasestop, ohpleasestop, ohpleasestop!

I still dislike driving, even though I'm a professional driver (yeah, it sounds funny to me, too). I'd just rather not if someone else is willing.

And yet, I insist on being in the Driver's Seat all the time.

Without a second thought (usually), I can relinquish my safety and well-being into another's hands when driving in a metal box on wheels traveling at 75+ mph, but I really struggle when it's my Life and the "other" is the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving Master of the Universe, aka God, aka my Heavenly Father. I mean, really. Some of the people I drive with are crazy drivers, especially...well, that doesn't matter. My point is, if I can trust them to get me there and home again without incident, shouldn't I be able to trust Him even more to do the same?

I think it's the planning that gets me. I'm a planner. When I'm driving Bertha and The Beast and going to a destination I've never been to before, I first go to Mapquest to get driving directions, then I turn to my handy-dandy fuel guide that a nice trucker gave me after this incident (please, for my sake, skip over the Shawn details!) that tells me where to find gas stations big enough to hold my rig and, very importantly, that have diesel. I'm able to plan where I'm going to stop all along the way. No surprises. When I drive with people...same thing, no surprises (rarely, that is). I know the route we're taking, no problems whatsoever.

Not so in Life. When I plot my course, things happen that take me somewhere totally different than where I thought I'd be. To be fair, I've generally been quite pleased with where I turn up, which should make me a lot more relaxed, but I'm not. It's not that I don't trust Him, I just want a hint or two about where I'm going and when/where the next stop is. I wouldn't care if I don't get married until I'm 64 (like my great aunt on my dad's side) as long as I knew this and could plan accordingly. Or, if I'm supposed to be the Next Food Network Star, it would be nice to know that I'd better book-it to culinary school!

I have several options for my future but have no clue what's going to happen - if anything! I could go back to school and get my Masters, then on to get my PhD so I can become a professor of Economics. Like I mentioned above, culinary school is another option, the one I'm leaning toward currently. However, neither of these options will happen if I don't figure out something to do with my home (i.e. rent or sell it). Or, I could stay here (and not have to worry about my home) if a) I find a new job, b) I get married (chuckle, chuckle), or c) neither happens, my house doesn't rent or sell, and I have to stay at my current job f-o-r-e-v-e-r. *shudder*

I'm not one that believes that God does all the steering. I doubt He's up there playing a grand game of Chess with all our lives. I believe that He allows us to make big and small decisions that impact our lives and the lives of those around us. I don't think He expects me to always sit in the passenger seat, it's just that I tend to never let Him sit in the Driver's Seat unless He hits me over the head with a 2x4 (which He had to do in order to get me on a mission).

So, with all the uncertainty* about what's going to happen next, I'm going to try harder to let Him steer a little bit. To have a little more faith that He knows where to take me and what stops I need to make to get me where I'll be happiest.

Wish me luck.

*One thing is for certain, though - I'm finally going to France! Woohoo! I fly out of Vegas around 8pm on the 25th of December, arrive in Paris around 6pm on the 26th, and arrive back in Vegas sometime on January 2nd. I'll spend a few days there by myself - I have lots of fun things planned - then will meet up with Cardine on the 30th for the remainder of the time. I'm so absolutely thrilled about this trip that it makes all the uncertainties a little easier to bear. Whew!