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!


Anonymous said...

I like your analogy. For me, I think it's that He has given me the wheel completely and there are lots of roads out there. He expects me to pick a destination and read the map. Sometimes I go off-roading, even though I already know it hurts my car, but I do it anyway, because it seems easier or more fun... but it's not. I have to re-route my GPS back to one of the roads. There's a particular road I'm trying to find... but I think it's a few miles away still... so I'll just keep cruisin' 'til I find it. Oh... cruise control... yeah, sometimes I try that, but then I hit black ice or a puddle and start hydro-planing and realize it's better to think about what I'm doing and do it purposefully and not get lazy about it.

Sigh... I miss talking to you....

Anonymous said...

On second thought... maybe I shouldn't be looking for a "particular road"... maybe I should be looking for another "motorist" who wants to caravan with me on whatever roads we choose to travel together.

Wow, in that light, no wonder marriage is hard (from what I hear, of course).

Anonymous said...

... but what do you do... just walk up to someone and say, "Wanna be in my carpool?"...

Okay, I'm really gonna get back to work now. Feel free to delete these comments if it's just a little "too much". :D

Mellissa said...

Your post is just what I needed this week. I had someone point out that I'm not very humble and that I never rely on God. Ouch...but true. Thanks for sharing.

p.s. You are a scary driver...unless things have changed since high school? :)

Adam said...

Thanks for this post. I really, really enjoyed it.

Adam said...

God does not play dice[or chess] with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, i.e. everyone, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.

Booklogged said...

I like your driving analogy, too. You'd think I would have something wise to say since I've been on the road for such a long time but I don't. Somewhere I went 'off road' and am now aimlessly floating along in one of the enclosed vessels used by the Jaredites!

Booklogged said...

I did just think of something - if you're looking for hints you might reread your Patriarchal Blessing.

Cardine said...

Smiles all the time -- haha! (Also, I would say that he does tell you the rules, but you have to ask and be verrrry patient.)

Anyway, the analogy was good. So good, that I almost missed it. I got stuck on the part where you mentioned a crazy driver. I've gotta say, I'm pretty sure it's me. Why do I think this? Because people treat me like I am a crazy driver. And also, most people are crazy drivers. Some people just don't think that they are because they are "in control" when they're driving. But they're still crazy.

Cherry tartlets. That is all.

No wait. One more thing. FRANCE! I am so excited that we're going!

julie said...

Sarah, absolutely loved your comments. I miss talking to you, too. Playing the analogy game by myself isn't nearly as fun. I think we come up with better analogies together than I do by myself.

The Driver's Seat analogy never really sat (teehee) well with me, probably because I have a deep-seated belief that we're give ample opportunities to steer our own lives. As I've thought about it more, I've decided a more apt analogy might be that I should actually let Him in the car while I'm driving and He can act as Navigator. Maybe this is my problem - I expect to be doing the driving. :)

I wish I had the nerve to go up to a qualified candidate and ask him to be in my carpool. Sigh. I don't even have the nerve to give one the driving wave (one finger lifted off the steering wheel). Sigh.

julie said...

Missy, I hope that someone was pretty close to you; otherwise, they should mind their own business. Yeah, that wouldn't be a happy thing to hear. I'm definitely a candidate for hearing it, though. I mean, I was a candidate, I've turned over a new leaf.

Adam, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I very much enjoyed your quote from Good Omens. I absolutely love that book. It has so many gems.

Seriously, people, if you haven't read Good Omens, you should. Exclamation Point.

Book, is it in one of the Jaredite vessels? I imagine it's a little claustrophobic. Somehow, though, I don't think you're wandering aimlessly. I always think of you as someone with purpose. I'm remembering your home remodeling, your fabulous garden, all the books you manage to read, etc. And, thanks for the advice about reading my patriarchal blessing. I really should pull it out again to see what inspiration it gives.

Cardine, have you read Good Omens yet??? You'd love it, if you haven't! Yeah, cherry tartlets are making me excited for this evening (and hanging out with you and friends). I've chosen a secret ingredient to add to them. Bwahaha! Can't wait. And don't even get me started on how excited I am for France! Sometimes I think I'm going to explode with anticipation. The good kind, not the "hopes too high they're probably going to burst and rain on my parade" kind. Woohoo!

Cassie said...

I could definitely do better by putting more faith in God, but it is so hard for me to relinquish control, not that I'm doing myself any favors. I look forward to hearing where your path leads you.

Wendy said...

Julie, I loved this blog because it reminded me a lot of myself. I hate driving too and am only too happy when someone else says they will drive. Because, I like you, love to look at the scenary. And yet on the flip side I like you like to be in the drivers seat when it comes to my life. I want to know the whole plan for my life now, in all the most tiny details. Sigh - if only there was a road map for the course of our lives. But perhaps it is more of an adventure when we don't know what it ahead. I loved the analogy to trusting any crazy driver with our lives on the road while not being willing to trust the most constant being ever with our future.

As always, thank you for the beautiful insight. You should write a book. I am not joking.

tearese said...

I'm so excited that you're finally going to France! Everything in its own due time.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, and has definitely given me a lot of think about. Thanks. :D

Also, have SO much fun on your trip. Be safe! Love you SO much!

Julie's Mom said...

Hey, Sis! Just want to let you know that I'm always impressed with the paths you choose to travel, and I'm very touched and inspired by your faith. I love you and am proud of you. Though the road may be rocky and uncharted at times, the trip is the fun part. Thank Heavens (and Heavenly Father) that we are not traveling it alone.