Summer of 1998. My first time ever stepping foot into a public high school.
I was a Private School kid. Always had been. Where my entire grade could fit into just two of these public school classrooms'.
I recall the labyrinth of hallways that overwhelmed my senses upon entering that large, musky-smelling foyer.
My high school was one meek, little hallway that was overcrowded with about 200 total high-schoolers in regular, fifty-minute intervals.
I endured, like you, hours of lecture on the rules of the road with these horrifyingly graphic videos of roadside crashes filmed in the 1950's.
Then came the driving portion. An entire week of hell.
Mrs.Williams was her name. And she was the meanest driving instructor in the system. She would slap our hands if we messed up just ever so slightly. "Hand over hand!!!!", she'd scream. She would make us drive her to Burger King just to make us watch her eat her Croissan'wich and tots. She never even assumed we would want anything.
She made us drive to convenience stores where she'd hand one of us a $5 and say "get me a Dr.Pepper and make sure you bring back the change".
When the driving test came, I thought to myself "there has been nothing, nor will there ever be anything else I will ever dread more than this".
Any taste of potential freedom I anticipated before that first testing of my (lack of) driving skills left with the man that failed me for my 37 point turn.
When my next opportunity presented itself, my stomach had tied itself into a salted pretzel. I may have very well held my breath for the entire eight minutes we were gone. I turned my 37 point turn into a 5 point turn and passed.
"I'll never worry again", I thought to myself, "in fact, I can confidently go on with my life now, ne'er a challenge will come that can trump this one."
Then came college.
Nothing quite prepares you for that hallowed moment when you watch the back of your family's car get smaller and smaller as it drives further away from you. In the midst of my extreme pleasure that I found in the "Dorm Style" section of Target, I had forgotten the real reality that lay in my immediate future. I was so caught up in buying wastebaskets, plastic dining ware, and ramen in bulk, that I failed to anticipate the extreme sadness that would come after moving all of these items into a 12x8 space with a complete stranger.
"This is the hardest thing I'll ever face!!!...What could ever be worse than this?!"
But then came Philosophy class and Statistics and living two-hundred miles away from my fiancé.
Hardest thing ever, right?
Then came marriage, and three weeks in, we were about to kill each other over the best way to do laundry.
I thought that was the hardest part ever.
But I was wrong again.
Because then came finishing my degree by watching VHS tapes and sending in assignments online, while working full time. All the while, with those familiar parental voices in my head saying, "you'd better finish...you have to finish....".
When I was finished, I was relieved and thought, "that was the hardest thing ever, but I finished and now I can live the rest of my days in the middle of one huge, long, glorious sigh of relief. Nothing can be worse than trying to finish your undergrad while eight months pregnant and working full-time."
I could go on and on and on because there's always that next hardest thing. And when the thing is over and runs its course, or when we just get used to the newness and the thing becomes our new normal, we sigh and think "ahhhhh, that wasn't soooo bad, I guess. Glad it's over, but nothing will phase me now."
I look back and think, "wow, you're kind of an idiot, Alicia, to think that that thing you were dreading was the worlds most horrible thing."
Especially now when I am thoroughly convinced that this anxiety/panicky/physically crazy/tormented body and mind I have is the absolute worst thing ever. Because it is. I'd go and sit thru another week of Driver's Ed hell and probably end up loving the "me" time.
I'd confidently take that driving test and show off my 100% perfect driving record (no tickets/no wrecks/no citations).
I'd be used to watching my family drive away because I've had to watch them drive away so many times since then.
The fights over laundry don't happen anymore. The worries about exams and term papers have long past.
Those have been replaced by fears and anxieties that seem infinitely more ridiculous than any stress over a twenty page paper on Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development.
And so, I guess I say all of that to say that maybe there's this thing that "has" you right now and you're thinking "this is the worst/can it be over now?/awful-est thing" I've never experienced before. And, it may very well be.
But life never stops for those moments when things are just "too much". Life keeps going. People still need you. Life still offers up its expectations in, sometimes, heaping amounts. Bills still clutter up your mailbox, and grease stains on your favorite jeans and car dents still happen in the midst.
So everything that seems a bit "too much" right now is only a temporary "too much" until the next thing that's a bit more "too much".
God is there. Big or small. Horrible. Awful. Overwhelming. Intimidating. He just is already meeting us in those "too muches". And that's something to always look forward to.