There are some things I am fully qualified to do but avoid doing as much as possible.
Like driving a bus.
I had been somewhat dreading last Friday, because I knew it meant I was going to have to drive a bus. With children on it. I’m a very confident driver (probably sometimes a bit too confident) when I’m cruising around Dallytown or making my forever-long work commute to Canada and back every weekday, but there’s something that gives me real anxiety about driving a bus. I was required to get my CDL when I was coaching, but I only drove a bus full of athletes once, and it was a situation where I was the only option available.
And that was almost two years ago.
I really didn’t want to have to drive, but I had a promise to fulfill. You see, my students had earned a mini field trip to Cane’s (which is seriously less than a mile from our school), and I had to be the one to take them there. My kids were counting on me, and I could not–and would not–even think about letting them down. I always encourage them to be fearless in all they do and to give their best in all situations, and I obviously could not hypocritically not follow my own advice.
As soon as we loaded the bus Friday afternoon, I started sweating. Even though I aced my driving test during the actual process of obtaining this cursed license, there is something different about being in a real-life situation without another licensed adult in the vehicle with you to take over in case you prove to be a destructive disaster. Instead, I had 11 individuals super excited about getting to go to off-campus lunch and all fully confident in my abilities to get them there safely.
The trip started off rough. The brakes felt rusty, and it took me multiple times to press on them without feeling like I would send everyone flying forward; the doors flew open, but thankfully we weren’t going fast enough yet, and the kids were all sitting in the back, anyway, so I stopped to have a student come pull the lever to make sure the doors remained closed tightly; I was still sweating; I was too nervous to go the set speed limit, and one student yelled from the back to ask me if we would get to Cane’s before Thanksgiving; there were other cars on the road; I was still sweating; there was a super small turn space when we actually entered the Cane’s parking lot, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make the squeeze (in fact, I briefly paused and gave up, thinking I would need to call someone to come rescue us all from this horrid predicament, but I said a little prayer, and God got us all out of that pickle with only one tiny curb check); and I invented my own parking spot in some grass.
Once we got inside, the kids cracked a few jokes but also tried to make me feel better by telling me I did a good job. I love them. Then, they all wanted to go around the table and share what they were thankful for, and they pretty much all said what they were thankful for in regard to our precious class. If I were a crier, I would have been bawling. They warmed my heart more than anyone outside of the teaching profession would likely ever think teenagers could. It was the most beautiful lunch anyone could ever have at a grease-filled fried chicken establishment, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.
My mood changed, though, as we walked out to the bus, because all I could think about was the dreaded drive back to the school. It was a complicated exit from Cane’s, and I wasn’t confident in my abilities to be successful.
But Someone else was. And He gave me just what I needed.
Three of my students sat at the front of the bus rather than at the back with the others, and one of them said to me, “Ms. Merrill, we believe in you. We don’t care how long it takes to get back, but you can do this.” Then another added, “You’re always there for us, so it’s our turn to be there for you. We will be sitting here if you need anything.” They talked to me the entire way, and I forgot about being so nervous. I forgot about all of my worries, and I knew everything was going to be just fine. I had my people with me.
Life can get hard sometimes–even more challenging than driving a big yellow titanic submarine on wheels–and it’s even more daunting when you have to face those situations when you feel like you’re all alone. But, if you surround yourself with people who truly care about you and will be there for you when you need them the most, you might find strength that you never knew you had. I fully believe with all of my heart that God puts the right people in our lives at the exact moments we need them–and He can use anyone.
There will be times in life when your bus doors fly open, or you feel stuck in a parking lot, or you feel completely overwhelmed and unsure how you will possibly reach your destination in one piece. But you aren’t alone. You’re never alone. Know that there is always a voice trying to whisper to you, “I believe in you.” I hope you hear it.
And I hope you have your people there with you.