Monday, 28 May 2012

All my strength

I've had a taxing morning. Mondays for the last six months have been blighted by the dreaded driving lessons. Everyone has told me that at some point it will click into place and my confidence will come. Well, yes. But then the next challenge arrives and it feels like square one again. My current nemesis is large roundabouts (shoddy lane discipline on my part, yes, drivers feel free to silently seethe against me. I'm the idiot cutting you up) and dual carriageways. What's even more frustrating is that 99% of the population seem to be fine with this particular skill. The accident I had is always looming in the back of my mind. Right now it all feels insurmountable.

This is further complicated by the fact that for me driving is inextricably linked to the process of going forward for ordination. If I weren't doing that I would be still be happily (ok, well slightly grumpily) walking to work. I need a car for college, for placements, for the next step in my life. When driving is hard (or studying, or leading in church or any other skill I'll need for that matter!) I quickly look up to the looming mountain of responsibility and think – 'if I can't do this, then....?'

When Jesus was asked what the most important part of the law was he said 'Love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.' (and love your neighbour as yourself, we forget that one easily eh?) To me this means giving the very best of what I have to God and where he is calling me. All my mind to study, all my strength to the journey, all my heart to the process, all my soul in prayer. And arguably all my mind to big roundabouts and all my strength to slip roads.

At the end of today's lesson I ended up in a bit of a heap and uttered those often thought but rarely vocalised words – 'what if I can't do this?' And that's the big fear isn't it? That when you push yourself to the max, using the very best of what you have to offer, then what if it's not enough?

Here lies the comfort of the comfort zone. It's a false comfort really because who wants the wake up call one day that life has passed you by and you've no idea what you've done with it? I don't. And so I find myself somewhere in the middle, with the fear of failure hanging around like a bad smell as I wistfully look back at the comfort zone (ah, what did that felt like again?!) and on the flip-side looking to the future with excitement, pushing the boundaries, sometimes succeeding sometimes not.

Because if you don't push yourself to the limits then you can't really fail. You can always say, 'I didn't really try anyway'. When things go wrong, it's not you it's your circumstances. It's harder to say, 'that was my fault, I'm still learning. I've not go this down yet.' I can see myself saying that so many times over the next few years but it takes such confidence, such strength to say 'that was me' and still believe you can do all the things you know you have to. That is plumbing the depths of strength.

I know I'm not alone. The one who call also equips. (As an aside I actually found myself genuinely jealous that Jesus was born in the time of donkey travel the other day when praying. A donkey on the A40?!)

A novelty donkey picture to lighten the mood. These chaps live at The Donkey Snactuary (\)
Right now I'm having a wistful look back at the comfort zone, tomorrow will probably look brighter. But that's the journey I suppose, one foot in front of the other. All my strength...


  1. Poor Nicola. As one who also had to learn to drive as a condition of her first professional post, I can really sympathise. Can you get out onto the quieter roads in the countryside for some practice or is it always a case of wrestling with the nightmare that is Oxford traffic?

    1. Thanks Perpetua! The irony is I'd be mostly on country roads if I passed as we'll be living in a village outside Oxford. I'm ok in the centre of town really. It's the big roads around Oxford that really give me trouble. Today was a low but, ever the optimist, I'm trying to stay positive for next week!

      I think the pressure of a deadline doesn't help. Amazing how something so seemingly straight forward can cause such angst!!

      Thanks as always for your comment, you're so very encouraging! x

  2. How funny (kind of)! Me and a fellow ordinand were discussing driving on Friday night. Neither of us can, and we were wondering if the CofE had a fund to help trainee vicars learn - there's no way either of us can afford to in London at the moment. But it would benefit the church in the long run if we could!
    (However, not being able to drive currently means rural parishes are out of the question for us. Bonus!)
    Stick with it though, I'm sure you will have a breakthrough! x

    1. Hey Liz,

      Yes, it is really expensive. I did an extra admin freelance job to cover the cost so was lucky there. I hope I get there (be positive woman!!) as it would open up more options in terms of placements/future churches you know what with my ambition to be the next Vicar of Dibley! ;)