In the years that followed I was good to my word and never got behind a wheel, well, not in body at least but I certainly did in my mind. Driving still hung about constantly, popping up in dreams and nervous moments as a passenger. Nightmares about being forced to drive and feeling thoroughly out of control became a regular feature of my dream world. I built my life around not needing to drive, taking jobs in the city centre and living along good bus routes. Sure there were things I couldn't do but they were no way near as bad as actually facing my fear and getting back behind the wheel.
It was only when on yet another lift back to my house in the back of my father-in-law's car just over a year ago that the balance started to tilt in favour of driving again. It wasn't a need to get anywhere or some new job that I needed a car for, more than anything I was fed up of being afraid. Fed of being mastered by something that I could overcome. Fed up of making compromises. Fed up of doubting myself.
So the next week I started lessons again. I hated every minute. As I've written on this blog before, my circumstances changed, I ended up studying in the middle of the countryside and suddenly I needed to drive and yet it was so hard, so impossible, that I felt I would never get there. It probably sounds ridiculous to be so wrung out from simply learning to drive given some of the challenges people meet and overcome every day. All I can say is that it felt like so much more than a license and a freedom to get where I want, when I want. It was about whether I could really get over myself enough to succeed at something I knew I could do or whether I was going to be the sort of person who let fear dominate me.
After nine months of lessons I failed my first test. Two months later I took it again and failed for a second time. Despondent and thrust straight into the busyness of ministry training I put driving on hold again but booked myself into an intensive course and into another test for the end of the year knowing I would flake out if I didn't commit myself and some cash to the cause. That test was last Friday and much to my great surprise – I passed!
It is wonderful to consider all the things I can now do and all the restrictions that have melted away with this one landmark achievement. But more than this it is wonderful to have such a big, lifelong fear shunted firmly into the past. I am so tired and getting here has certainly cost me a lot emotionally and physically but the rewards are only just beginning.
So how about you? Any big fears you want to put behind you? If my oft winding tale towards being a fully licensed driver is anything to go by then anything is possible.