As a young child, I can remember brisk autumn days in my dad’s white Toyota Camry. After school meant a drive to McDonald’s and getting a hot, crunchy McChicken or a satisfying snack wrap. I loved car rides. I enjoyed turning off the radio and just singing to my heart’s content while admiring the tranquil view. Perhaps that is why I never paid attention to road signs. I was too lost in the wonder of God’s creation around me.

As I started to learn to drive, I lost that awe of nature. Driving seemed dreadful to me. Suddenly, my attention went from watching the weather to watching my speed limit. 

I could probably write a book about each experience I had at the DMV- whether it was simply forgetting the required materials or getting yelled at by numerous instructors. It’s pretty hard to get back on your feet after paying a $36 fee for the third time, explaining that you failed the test for the 6th time, and watching thousands of cars each day drive past you. All those other people who drive cars passed the test. Why couldn’t I?

It was a frustrating experience, but a fruitful one. I hated failing, but I learned from it. These are some thoughts from what I learned:

  1. Each failure meant one step closer to success.
    • I kept learning something new every time I failed, and I tried my best not to make the same mistake again.
  2. The people who genuinely loved me stuck around to support me.
    • They gave me tough love and tender love when I needed it. People can easily judge my driving experience because it was easy for them to pass. However, not everyone has gone through what I have gone through. I don’t say that to pity myself, because I have learned to become a better, safer driver. 
    • Every time I failed, I thought my family and friends would hate me, but that wasn’t true. They were there for me. It got harder and harder to get back up every time I failed…except for the 6th time. I was determined to pass at that point.
  3. I had a lack of confidence.
    • I was traumatized by my instructors and past experiences. I would get sick to my stomach, start chattering my teeth, and shaking my leg. It was not pleasant. (But now I know how people feel about their fear of public speaking.)
  4. Others were blessed.
    • Could that even be possible? Are people getting blessed because of my failure? Yes. There was one point in the late summer that I needed to take a Lyft to work for two weeks. Without fail, every driver and ride-along passenger took a church tract. I may have never met these people otherwise, but I’m so glad I did! Maybe I was meant to fail, for such a time as that.
  5. God gets all the glory.
    • It was the 7th time I took the test that I finally passed. A nice Samoan lady named Simoa was my instructor. She was so down-to-earth and sweet. She made me feel comfortable, and the drive was actually enjoyable. At the end of my test, she said, “That was a smooth drive. You only made two mistakes.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Only 2? It was then that my heart was overjoyed. I not only finished, but I also flourished. I was able to pass with a wonderful grade. I did improve after all! Praise the Lord!

I can be too much of a perfectionist, but I had to learn to be patient with myself. I can’t do everything, especially on my own. I have my family and friends who supported me throughout. I want to give special honor to my mom, who would take off work, spend gas, and time just to help me pass. (She cried after I passed, by the way.) This was a sweet ending to a rough ride. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to learn through my failures. 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.- Isaiah 40:31

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Charlene Ilan, GSBC Professor

Miss Charlene Ilan and her family have been faithful members of NVBC for over a decade. She is an alumna of North Valley Baptist Schools and Golden State Baptist College and now teaches at GSBC in the English and Music Departments.