Today I failed my driving test for the third time. According to the inspector the whole problem with my driving is about “avläsning” – scanning the environment constantly and reading the situation. I had gone to great lengths during the test to look everywhere, in the mirrors, over my shoulder, and in the environment around. I had, I thought, driven really well. Softly and slowly and safely, with no sudden braking or acceleration.
However, there was one pedestrian crossing where I missed seeing a person who was crossing. She was in a blind spot and I saw her at the last minute, but still stopped in good time. The inspector interpreted the situation as me not adequately screening the environment in advance. She then extrapolated that to the whole test and made the sweeping statement which I think was quite unfair, that although I was clearly looking I was not seeing. I also had a problem in a roundabout where she said I did not adequately show my intentions to other drivers.
I suppose I have improved. I had the same inspector at my first test. That time she described my way of driving as “katastrofalt” – disastrous. This time she simply said that I have bad habits because I have driven for so many years and that breaking bad habits is difficult. She took the time to speak to my driving instructor after the test to explain what I need to learn before I come back for the next test.
The big question for me was whether there should be a next test at all. I find myself wondering whether I will ever be able to learn good habits and unlearn the bad ones. I think that I drive fairly well, and safely for the most part. However, the inspector today said that my driving is unsafe. A large part of the problem is this difference of opinion. She would see my inability to see my weaknesses as a problem in itself. And I can see her point.
Even more fundamental and on a spiritual level is the question this raises about whether we should be in Sweden. This is a question that has arisen in other contexts than simply my attempts to get a driver’s license. For me it is largely at work that I have these questions. Almost every day I struggle with the feeling that I am in the wrong place. That I don’t belong here. There is a constant conflict in me between this feeling, and the logical workings of my mind. The fact is that I like my workplace. I like the people I work with. I even like the work I do. What more could a person want? Even being a GP trainee is a rather enjoyable existence with lots of opportunities for education even while being paid.
But despite everything I seldom can get through a day without the feeling coming over me that I am in the wrong place. I wonder how I should interpret these feelings. I wonder in the context of wanting to do what God wants me to. Am I in the place God wants me? Have I gone down the wrong path? Are we in the country that God wants us to be in? What does God want of us really? Failing my driver’s license three times brings that question once again to the front of my mind. Did I really need to fail? Or is this God’s way of getting us to move on?
Reading meaning into circumstances seems to me to be fraught with problems. The same set of circumstances can mean so many different things. Getting guidance from feelings is also fraught with problems. Feelings are so variable and so unreliable. Yet my feelings about work have almost never been positive in the sense that I have “landed” in the place I should be. Always I have had the feeling that I am doing what I am doing because it is convenient and it is expected. Not because it is what I want. I find myself constantly working to convince myself that what I am doing is the right thing. But it always requires rather a lot of mental energy. The bottom line is that although I have a very nice job it is not what I want.
I am hesitant to move on in life to another country or another job unless we have a sense that God is directing us somewhere for a particular purpose. To just “go back” to an earlier life feels like such a backward step. Despite all the hard issues for me personally there are lots of positives in our current life situation. We have a comfortable house in a good area which is very convenient to school, work and the city. Maria has a job she enjoys. We have a church which works very well in many ways.
God may well be telling us it is time to move on. Much in my circumstances leads me to the conclusion that for me at least it would not be wrong to move. My emotions say the same thing. But I am not naïve enough to believe that moving on will be easy. If and when it happens it will require huge adjustments for everyone, and there will be a significant cost, emotionally and financially. We are willing to pay that cost if we feel that God is directing us to something or somewhere more meaningful. But not if I am simply running away.