My sister has given me permission to share with you an experience we had on the weekend…
She has recently passed her driving test and on Sunday, after church we had some errands to run in preparation for our mum’s birthday dinner later that evening. As we were about to head off on our mission my mum suggested we use her car. My sister was a little apprehensive as she had never driven an automatic, so my mum took her for a quick spin with it and by the time they came back she was ready to go! I had my son with me so we packed his buggy in the boot, put him in the back seat and we were ready to get going. Our first stop, the petrol station and then to Crouch End for my mum’s cake, then home…but first we had to get out of the parking space we were in!
My sister started the car and began reversing out of the space. As she reversed I noticed she was going in the opposite direction to what would lead us to the petrol station, so I asked her about this. While we were busy trying to get our bearings, there was a stationary car behind us that had stopped at the traffic light. The driver started beeping frantically to signal that we were getting too close to her car. My sister panicked slightly and next thing we know the lady and her mother were out of their car and in front of ours, saying we’d hit their car.
In all honesty, it genuinely didn’t feel like we had even touched their car. I remember my sister panicking a little and I told her to not worry, to just get out of the car and let’s deal with it. My sister got out of the car and faced the two ladies who were quite heated and ready for a serious confrontation. The great thing about my sister is that she is so nice – so even though she was now panicking inside, she showed them that she was more than willing to cooperate. She told them that she was a new driver and was very apologetic and almost instantly they calmed down.
While she dealt with them I got back into the car to move it out of the road, at which time my sister’s husband happened to be walking past. I got out to let him know what was happening. At this time my sister was still in conversation with the two ladies, who had now shown her the very tiny mark on her car and also the tiny mark on ours – so, yes, we did in fact touch their car…! The conversation ended with them agreeing to resolve the issue privately, without having to involve their insurance companies.
When they drove away my sister came back to the car where her husband and I were waiting and she burst out crying. She now felt so bad and so discouraged that she no longer wanted us to take the car and proceeded to tell me to get my son’s buggy back out, so that we could take the bus. “I don’t feel confident. I can’t do it. Maybe another day but not today” she said with tears streaming down her face. Her husband comforted her and then we both started to encourage her, telling her she could still do it. Personally, I didn’t mind taking the bus, but, it just didn’t sit right with me. Somehow, the story wasn’t meant to end that way! Okay, yes, this was a major, unexpected setback, but this story deserved a victorious end! I truly believed my sister could get back behind that wheel and all would be fine! The more her husband and I pushed her, the more resistant she became and the more she insisted that she just couldn’t do it “what if it happens again??” I could see she was getting annoyed with us, but I personally am all too familiar with the after-affects of a decision made by fear. It cripples you. My mind fast forwarded to dinner later that evening. She would be recalling the story of her “failure” and would probably cry while doing it, feeling disappointed in herself and probably feeling emotionally crippled. The only way to prevent that was for her to face that fear head-on – right now!
“Sherene, my son is in the back of the car. If I didn’t believe you could do it, I wouldn’t be pushing you” I said. “Sherene, get in the car, I will make sure you are okay to reverse and everything will be fine” said her husband. I’m not sure what it was that changed her mind, but the next thing I know, she was getting in the car! We buckled up, her husband checked the road while she reversed and before we knew it we were on the road, headed to the petrol station! I was so excited! Maybe even more excited than my sister!
We filled up the petrol tank, headed to Crouch End, where she parked and waited for me to pickup my mum’s birthday cake and then we got back on the road and headed home. The journey was so smooth that my son fell asleep along the way! The moment we arrived on our street and she parked (perfectly I might add) I felt like celebrating! Not because we had made it home safely, but because my sister had conquered her fear!! She made a decision that was contrary to her fear and because of that, she not only overcame that fear but she was now more confident than ever. She was so happy when we arrived home and even said “does anyone need me to drive them anywhere?” That evening at dinner, the conversation started with the mishap of bumping the other driver, but ended with what a great job she had done whizzing my son and I around. There was laughter all around and in fact, the experience has encouraged me to book my practical test earlier than I had planned!
I had to share this story because this is a great example of exactly what courage is. Courage is a decision. We are not born courageous. It is not a skill or quality that some possess and others don’t. It is a choice that each and every one of us has the ability to make. Remember that fear cripples, but courage empowers! In most cases courage is not the easier choice to make, but it is certainly the choice with the better outcome!