By: Cheri Fuller
There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18–19 NIV
When you can’t trust God, it’s very hard to trust anyone else, especially your husband. And that lack of trust can damage relationships. I found this out by personal experience. In fact, my anxiety threatened to ruin our first Christmas together. Holmes and I were on our way back from Wellington, Kansas, to Dallas for a New Year’s Eve celebration of my mother’s birthday. It was December 1969, and we had only been married one month. Little did Holmes know the basket case of nerves he would have sitting beside him in the car.
Since almost everyone in my family had a touch of “car anxiety,” I thought it normal the way my big sister threw her arms on the dashboard when she thought I was stopping too close to the car in front or how we were all such experts at backseat driving. After all, we four sisters had been on the fateful trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, when my sister Georgia fell asleep leaning on the car door and went flying out on the highway. Mama, with me in her arms, became hysterical and ran back to get her. Papa, normally reserved, was shaken as he scooped my bloody, unconscious sister up in his arms. He declared that we’d never take another family trip—and we didn’t, as long as he lived. Georgia survived with only abrasions from head to foot, but car anxiety was the long-term effect for all the rest of us in the car.
Holmes and I drove away from his grandparents’ house, waving and smiling, excited about getting back to Dallas and our little duplex in Waco as the first snowflakes were beginning to fall. It was our first New Year’s Eve as a couple. Having grown up in Dallas where we saw snow only once in five years, I loved the way the Kansas countryside looked as we drove by the wheat fields now growing whiter and whiter. But my delight turned to worry as the snow blanketed the road and the highway grew slicker. Holmes felt confident about driving us back to Texas safely; he’d had lots of experience driving on snow and ice while growing up in northern Oklahoma. Besides, to him this was a great adventure, and he loved adventures.
However, I was petrified as daylight turned to darkness and our car began sliding on the icy roads. Miss White-Knuckle-Door-Handle-Hugger clung to it as if somehow gripping it could save me
“Holmes, please slow down!” I said, anxiety rising up and choking me.
“I’m only going twenty-five miles per hour,” he answered. “Relax.”
Relax! I thought. This looked like a full-scale blizzard to me, and we could barely see anything ahead for the whirlwind of white covering the windshield. There was no way I could relax. My foot “braked” to slow us down, but that didn’t work. It felt like we were going too fast. But even five miles per hour would have been too fast for me. I was so scared I could barely speak except to say an occasional, “Slow down!”
Holmes ignored me and kept driving steadily along. As we cruised through several small towns, snow drifted in huge piles. Only one lane was open. Cars were careening off the road because under the snow was a solid sheet of ice. But whenever we slid off the road, Holmes somehow got us back on track and kept going.
“Holmes, why don’t we just stop?”
“We don’t have the option of stopping. We’re between towns, and it’s too cold to pull to the side of the road. Besides, we’d freeze.”
“Then let’s spend the night in the next little town and continue driving in the morning when the roads are better.” As soon as we went through the next one, we passed several motels, but they all had NO VACANCY signs out. My spirits fell.
“Look! There’s a sign saying travelers can stay at the high school gymnasium overnight because of the snowstorm,” I said, thinking that was a great idea.
“Your family is expecting us for your mom and sister’s birthday party, and I’m not about to sleep on a cold, hard gym floor tonight.”
As much as I loved a family party, sleeping on a gym floor sounded better to me than six more hours of this stressful driving. And plenty of cars were turning into the school ahead of us who agreed.
“There’s no reason to stop,” he bristled. “We’re fine, and I can get us to Dallas safely.”
With each mile Holmes grew more irritated by my nervousness. I felt hurt because he didn’t understand my fear. He didn’t appreciate my “backseat driving.” He didn’t feel affirmed since I wasn’t admiring his driving skills. I was upset he wouldn’t drive slower. And he thought he was driving carefully and felt criticized. Anger, fear, and hurt welled up in me and neither of us could relate to the other!
When we finally arrived at my parents’ home in Dallas well after midnight that New Year’s Eve, I was worn out from the stressful drive (even though I hadn’t done any of the driving. Worry will do that to you—drain all your energy), and Holmes and I were barely speaking. Unfortunately, this was a scene that occurred several times in the early years of our marriage. Between the normally peace-loving, low-conflict two of us, some of our worst times were in the car.
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”