I couldn’t believe how bad I did on the test.
I had been practicing for weeks. I read through the handbook cover to cover. When I pulled up to the DMV there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I would be pulling out of there with my driver’s license.
So I was pretty surprised when the instructor told me I failed. I was devastated. It wasn’t just that I had failed. It was that I failed for the second time.
I didn’t say a word on the drive home. When I got back, I sat in my room and just stared out the window.
How am I going to explain this to all my friends? Am I ever going to pass the test, or am I going to grow up to be the only 40 year-old man who has to have his mom and dad drive him to work every morning?
How Helping Someone Else Helped Me
Later that day, my youth pastor called and asked how the test went. I told him how badly I bombed. He asked how I was holding up. “Fine,” I said, but I wasn’t fooling anyone.
He asked if he could swing by and buy me a burger. Since I’ve never been one to turn down a free meal, I said sure. We talked about the test and how I was feeling about it. We talked about what I did well on it and what the instructor said I needed to work on for next time.
Then he did something I wasn’t expecting. He asked for a favor.
There was a lot of stuff that needed to be cleaned up at church. He had a couple of other students who signed up to help that Saturday, but said he could use some more help and asked if I could lend a hand.
I reluctantly agreed.
So, a few days later, I was at church pulling weeds, hauling trash to the dumpster, and organizing closets and classrooms. At first I was pretty ticked. I mean, here I was, still down about my driver’s test and worried I was going to have my parents drive me around the rest of my life, and he was asking me to do a favor for him. What’s up with that?
But the more I began to dig in to the work, the less I felt sorry for myself and the less I worried about becoming the world’s oldest man without a driver’s license. I started coming alive, joking around with everyone, having fun, and taking pride in my work.
What To Do When You’re Dealing With Anxiety
Anxiety, like a car, requires fuel. The more we dwell on the pain of our past, or worrying about what might go wrong in the future, the more fuel we give our anxiety to run on. But when we turn our attention to what we’re grateful for, helping others, exercise, the people we care about and our dreams for the future, the more we starve our anxiety and feed the thing we need most: hope.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).
If you’re anxious about something bad, give your time and attention to something good. (Tweet This)
Spending time working at the church that day didn’t solve my problem, but it did help me feel better about it. In hindsight, I believe that’s the reason my youth pastor asked me to help him that day.
As I left for home that night, I was able to put my failure in its proper context. I had failed my driving test, like so many before me, but I was not a failure. I realized I was capable of good work and having good relationships with great people.
A while later I retook by driver’s test and passed. I was so excited to finally drive on my own. Looking back, I think I’m more excited about what I got from those two failed tests than I am about the license I got from passing the third.
When you’re worried about something bad, what are some good things you can give your time and attention to? Let us know in the comments by clicking here.