“What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.
She handed me the keys.
“Wait, what?” I exclaimed, confused.
“You’re driving,” my instructor said.
And with that I stuck the keys in the ignition and was off. I had driven before— in circles around empty parking lots. But driving on the road for the first time is always a bit uncomfortable. It took a little bit of time to get used to the new car, and I imagined my first lesson to be rather abrasive. However, driving so far has been going incredibly well. For some reason, I’m not afraid to drive.
I wasn’t afraid to drive the first time I sat in a car because my dad was right next to me. I knew that he wouldn’t let me do anything stupid or crash into any walls.
And I wasn’t afraid to drive on the street today with my instructor, because I knew she had a second set of brakes and would simply grab my wheel if I was about to hit a curb. We explored various different neighborhoods, a busy shopping plaza, and some major streets before I asked if I could drive to my church where I take dance classes. I wanted to know I could drive there safely with my dad after the lesson. Doing that however would involve crossing a giant intersection that you wouldn’t typically cross on your first lesson.
“Sure!” She said. She guided me through the left turn and I surprisingly stayed in my lane and didn’t kill anyone.
At another left turn on the way back, my instructor told me, “You’re crazy.”
“What do you mean?” I said, laughing.
“Most people don’t even want to leave their neighborhoods on their first lesson. And you wanted to drive to church!”
“I don’t know. I’m typically a pretty anxious person.”
“You can be anxious and still be a good driver. It keeps you safe and alert. It’s the fear that messes people up and keeps them from doing things.”
I let that sink in.
“But you, you’re fearless. I like you,” she concluded.
I spend so much time fearing for the future. I spend so much time contemplating what I’m going to do with my life. What is so different about being in a car and taking the wheel? Why am I not afraid?
I remember my dad holding my bike when I was 5 years old, so afraid that he was going to let go. And he did! And I was riding on my own—for like 3 seconds— until I freaked out and started to veer off. But he was still right there, close enough to steady me back in place.
That is who our God is. Even in the moments he feels the most distant, he is still there. He will never let us down, ever. I’ve learned that sometimes a good father has to throw his beloved daughter out in the open, so she can explore the world and have the chance to succeed, while still staying close enough to catch her when the world ends up being cruller than it seems.
I told my driving instructor, “I trust you.” I trusted her through every turn and lane change. I don’t know why she trusted me with the steering wheel, but she does know that the only way I will ever learn to drive is by driving. When I drive with my dad, I trust him the same way. In church they always ask the congregation, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The answer for me is I would live ever so freely. For the first time, I would focus on doing things right rather than everything I’m doing wrong. Because if my instructor thought I was ready for the road, then I must be ready for the road. If God thinks I’m ready for whatever battles he’s giving me, I must be ready. So I’m just going to drive and see where these roads take me, trusting that if I end up somewhere I’m not supposed to God will show me the way.
The Bible says “do not fear” exactly 365 times, once for each day. God calls us to be fearless. If we live without fear, we live without restraints.
So what would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Today I want to live without fear. The only way I can do that is if I keep my eyes on you. If I wasn’t afraid, I would dance again. I would study relentlessly. I would try new things, and be much more resilient through challenges.
So today, I need you to help me trust you with everything. That is the only way I will ever be free. 💜