Stick Shift Shenanigans

One of the goals of driving the truck exclusively this month was that I (Nicole) would learn to drive a stick shift out of necessity.  Well, let's just say it's been waaaay harder than I expected.  My naive thoughts before getting behind the wheel for the first time went something like this: What the heck can be so tricky about a stick shift?  I mean, most of the world drives them, and my hubby learned to drive it when he was a mere teenager, so it can't be that hard, right?

I was in for quite the surprise.

Old Stick Shift

First time out: we practice stopping and starting in an empty parking lot near our house over and over and over...for over an hour.  I kill the engine many times, but by the end I'm starting to get the hang of it...sorta (not really).

Second attempt: Justin heads for the parking lot again, but I tell him I want to tackle driving on the actual road since there's a lot more to driving than what one can learn just stopping and starting in a parking lot.  So I drive around neighborhoods in north Ames where there's not that much traffic.  It goes ok, I make quite a few mistakes, but nothing majorly bad happens until I get stuck on a dead end and need to pull into someone's driveway to turn around.  In a flurry of frantic directions by Justin and me freaking out because I don't understand what he's telling me to do, I somehow manage to kill the engine while the truck is partially turned into the uphill driveway.  My task is to pull the car the rest of the way up the driveway and then Justin will let me be done and he'll drive home.  So I try.  Five times (at least).  And I kill it every time.  And then I burst into tears.  Justin starts chuckling at how ridiculously emotionally fragile I have become and tries to comfort me and be sweet and gentle at the same time (bless his heart).  And I keep crying.  I regain some composure and Justin offers to take over, but I decide I want to beat it so I keep trying.  Seven more times (maybe more?), killing it every time until finally I jerk my way up the driveway and manage to kill it again accidentally.  A pitiful victory.  Thus truly begins my hate and fear of driving the truck.

Every time I attempted to drive (more like Justin forced me to drive) after that for about a week I was absolutely terrified.  I got frustrated and angry.  I generally never swear, but I let more than a few curse words spew from my lips while behind the wheel.  I literally said more than once, "I hate this so much, every time I try this I just want to cry."

I realized I had a big problem, I was in sin, and I needed to fix it, but I wasn't sure how.  I recognized that I was terrified of failing and not being good at something because I thought it meant that I was a failure to both God and people (particularly the people on the roads whose lives were potentially endangered with me behind the wheel).  I believed I was what I did, and if I was no good at driving, it meant I was a no good person.  It was an insidious lie, and it took me quite a bit of praying before I was ready to accept the truth.

The breakthrough finally occurred yesterday when God told me what I needed to do was go back to the parking lot by myself, blast some worship music, and have an encounter with Him while practicing the basics.  So  I did just that and it totally transformed me.  I gave it up to Him.  I chose to trust that my value and worth does not depend on how good of a driver I am, but on who I am in Christ and that means there's nothing I can do to make me unworthy or unloved.  I started to laugh at my mistakes and they became fewer and fewer.

Today I drove to work and home all by myself and it was a totally different experience.  I was more confident (telling myself I'm awesome before pulling out helps, haha!), and I only killed the engine once when I got a little too cocky and stopped concentrating so much.  But more important than my improved performance was the obvious improved condition of my heart--I actually wasn't afraid.  And that, my friends, is what I'm loving about these 30 day challenges.  They actually are changing my life.  


  1. Hey Justin and Nicole. I absolutely love reading your blog posts! Keep them coming!

    1. Thanks Jase! Glad you enjoy, that's our hope anyways ;)

  2. I guess I should have spent time teaching you this skill while you were learning to drive. Sorry. Perhaps you will forgive me knowing that it would have deprived you of some wonderful experiences with your husband if I had:)