Last night, my brave husband decided to teach me to drive a *standard transmission using his nice shiny black Mazda 3.
(Honestly, I much prefer a motorcycle. The gear-shifting pattern is more intuitive to me.)
While I didn’t cause any traffic accidents, I did have a few moments where I felt like I wasn’t sure what to do next – how to choose the correct gear from neutral when coasting around a corner, for example.
I also stalled at a green light. Behind me was a silver car whose driver was communicating their lack of patience by revving the engine. I started the car and made a second attempt. As I was getting ready to take off, I noticed in the rear view that car was trying to go around me – and there wasn’t much room for this. It made me nervous. I pulled my foot off the clutch too fast and stalled the car again.
My husband calmly reached up and turned the rear view mirror so that I couldn’t see the car behind me. I was able to start the car and take off. Once we got going, he straightened the mirror.
As I was crossing through the intersection, the driver behind me decided that I was too slow in the takeoff and he gunned his engine and zoomed around me before the nose of my car passed under the light. Given that there was on-coming traffic and I would have been stuck in the middle if someone would have hit him as they blindly came over the crest of the hill, it was a little frightening.
This morning, as I was thinking about this incident – which happened in the span of a minute or less! – it underscored for me how difficult it is to focus on the task at hand when we are concerned about people who are watching. Fear of man is quite a stumbling block!
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the LORD.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
*The first time I attempted to drive a standard transmission was my Dad’s boxy white Chevy Blazer, complete with custom Navy blue pinstripes, he purchased from my uncle.
On the FIRST day he officially owned the Blazer, which, prior to this moment, had never missed an oil change, tune-up or wax job, my dad asked me to “start the car for him” – something I had always done with our Suburban.
The shiny Blazer was parked in first gear. While I was told to “press down on the clutch” when I switched on the ignition, I didn’t realize that I practically had to STAND on it in order to get it to fully engage.
The truck bucked violently and repeatedly crashed into our cinder-block apartment. Dad came running outside, sort of shaking his fists and flailing his arms at the same time, while he screamed bewildered nonsense.
The second time I attempted, my dad was actually IN the car with me, and we took the now-damaged Blazer out on some Indiana back roads. Ahead of me, lighted cross arms went down to block a frequently-used railroad track. Dad had me drive around them.
I recall the exchange went something like,
Me: “I can’t stop in time!”
Dad: “Weave through the cross arms!”
Me: “What if I stall on the tracks?”
Dad: “Then the train will hit us and we’ll die!”
Obviously, we’re both still alive on this crazy planet.
Since then, my friend Elly once allowed me to spin her car around in a K-Mart parking lot, but other than that, sans the Eliminator, my uncoordinated self has stuck to automatic transmissions.