I’ve never really liked to drive.
I’m not really sure where that came from. Maybe from traumatic learning how to drive experiences, maybe from my seven not so well working cars….maybe from my five or so fender benders… I don’t know; but I’ve never really liked to drive.
…and I pretty much have had an intense fear of bicycles for the greater part of my life.
Basically if I could get by walking or taking public transportation (aka, a friend’s car,) I was set.
Moving to Thailand seemed like heaven to someone like me.
The public transportation system is quite efficient, easy to understand and fairly inexpensive. Walking is often required, but that’s no big deal in a snow-free climate.
Most, if not all, of my western friends have some sort of transportation. The Lorensen’s have a car, but most people drive their motorbikes. For six whole months I was questioned about my choice to not get a motorbike.
“They are so convenient.”
“You get places way faster and don’t have to walk miles each day.”
“Paying for gas is so much cheaper than paying for Songteows [my favorite form of public transportation here] multiple times a day.”
But I stood my ground. I was going to be a Songteow-ing lady as long as I lived in Thailand. In fact, I went as far as to let God know that I was not going to learn how to drive a motorbike…
About four months into living in Thailand, my walking and songteow-ing going strong, I decided that a bicycle would be a good investment. Yes, I had some fears to face in regards to riding that thing on the (left side of the) street, but I figured, this would be a good form of exercise for me and would save me a couple minutes every morning.
So I purchased my bike. I was pretty terrified at first, but within a couple weeks, I was a pro. [I even experienced my first flat tire without freaking out.]
By this time, people’s complaints about my inability to get around easily where beginning to annoy, but I was standing firm in my decision to not learn how to ride a motorbike.
My prayer changed a little bit though. Instead of just telling God that I wouldn’t….I prayed:
“God, if you really want me to learn how to ride a motorbike. Someone is going to have to straight up give me one. I will not buy a motorbike.”
Two months later one of my friend’s moved back to America.
She left me her motorbike.
Sometimes I have to laugh at God’s sense of humor. He gave me a motorbike. I guess now it was my responsibility to learn how to ride it.
It was incredible to me how much fear I had of that thing.
I like to think of myself as a pretty adventurous person. Things don’t scare me (unless we’re talking about spiders, praying mantises or any other flying insect,) I like to do the scary things.
Riding this motorbike FREAKED me out. I was crippled. As Caleb would say, my fear was driving me to do unnatural things.
So the motorbike sat in our driveway.
After about two months I decided I would start driving…little by little. Seriously, little by little. I would have to constantly remind myself to breathe and keep my eyes open during these learning sessions…
And then, I broke my toes.
I am not one to believe that God causes sickness or injury in order to teach us things. I do, however, believe that God makes all things good.
I was pretty pitiful with those broken toes. I couldn’t walk for a good while and had to hobble with my crutches… but despite the pit of the despair I was letting myself be in, life had to go on.
I had to go to language school everyday and I could no longer walk the mile or so that was required to get there, let alone climb into and out of a songteow. It just wasn’t possible.
I had to drive that motorbike. And I had to drive it with my crutches.
So drive it I did.
And I was terrified.
So I prayed. and prayed and prayed. And arrived safely to my destination. Time after time after time.
I was forced to face this fear.
It’s been about two months now and getting on the motorbike is no longer a source of fear for me. I’m still not the best at parking, (though, that was never my strong suit in the States with my cars…) backing out or making left turns, but, I’m getting better everyday.
The incredible amount of freedom I feel when driving that bike is beautiful. Not only the freedom to get around quickly and efficiently without long walks, but also the freedom from fear.
The whole experience seemed pretty prophetic to me. It took my getting ‘broken’, for me to face my fears. And it took facing my fears in order for me to experience this freedom.
It makes me question what other hidden fears are paralyzing me? What other things am I refusing to walk into…. What other areas of my life am I saying ‘no’ to God in?
My toes are pretty much 100% at this point. And some days I miss my walks and rides in the Songteows, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be going back to my old ways anytime soon…
…I’ve tasted freedom, and I like it!