During our drive home to spend the long weekend in Alabama, our car hit 140,000 miles. The car turned ten this year although we bought it second-hand after Saffron was born.
Over the eight years we’ve owned her (because she’s clearly a girl), our children have managed to make a royal mess out of her back seat.
There was the day my daughter threw up and I had to pull over in the McDonald’s parking lot to get us cleaned up enough to drive the remaining two miles home.
That time Skillet spilled a container of green slime back there but “forgot” to tell us about it until we discovered this solid, shiny mass permanently adhered to the upholstery after the Texas heat baked it in just so nicely.
Or the time he snuck one of his daddy’s razor blades out of the bathroom and managed to slice his finger open getting bright red blood all over the place. It looked like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
There have been stickers on the windows and markers on the back of the seats. Enough ALDI golden penguins and dried out fruit snacks vacuumed up to fill five shop vacs. Plus countless hours spent driving around the metroplex while little people napped because they had refused to do so in their beds for eight days straight.
God bless mothers of littles.
Our car is a paid-for rolling-Petrie-dish of heaven only knows what kinds of bacteria who does her job well of getting us from point A to point B. She’s a permanently soiled moving monument to our very ordinary, driving-around, eating-breakfast-on-the-road, visiting-family, going-to-the-water-park life.
And we love her.
I think there are three kinds of people in the world:
Those who believe cars represent their life status.
Those who do not.
Those who know they do but can’t be bothered.
I am squarely in group 3.
There’s a commercial for a high-end car dealer here in town. They pride themselves on their customer service and as someone who’s taken her boss’ car there for some of that service, I can attest they are delightful. Their marketing story tells us having their name on the car is a status symbol all on its own.
The pretty 28-year-old woman on the commercial says, “I drive an Audi and a Dealer. Who WOULDN’T want to say that?”
Because I don’t care.
My car certainly says something about me which I suspect is mostly “frugal, has kids but possibly not a vacuum.” But other than that, She’s free of decorative decals with stick figure families, political bumper stickers, or even a Jesus fish. That fish might try to swim away when we have to blow our horn to remind the person in front of us the light turned green so GET OFF YOUR PHONE.
Humans put a lot of stock into the things we can see. Clothes, hair, housing, dress size, the wreath on the front door, engagement rings, cars. Even when we say we don’t care about those things, it’s impossible to avoid what other people read in our outward appearances.
Several times lately, the Lord has been reminding me of this passage,
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” ~1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
These reminders have come as I was praying for an orphan with medical needs searching for his forever family and a friend’s child recently diagnosed with the unknown and our own realization that Dr’s meager raise this year will go towards a crazy price hike in our electric bill (deregulated energy, Y’all) (it’s the literal worst).
We see people as one thing but God sees them completely differently.
A child with special needs is different because we somehow believe the rest of us are “normal.” But God made that child just that way. On purpose with purpose. What if that child is normal and we’re the ones with special needs? Why do we believe we know more about the value of a person than God?
And we don’t just believe with our eyes but we support that belief with our pocketbooks.
We buy the car with more bells and whistles. Get that bigger house because our stuff has outgrown our current one. Diets become an idol we chase believing a specific dress size with make us feel whole. The front porch and the table centerpiece and our Instagram accounts become a place for us to show off our beautiful outsides.
All while God is watching our hearts.
We can fool the casual, drive-by observer of our life, convince them we are worthy of their jealous glances, that our grass is not only greener but weed free. But we can’t fool Him. He sees.
Gratitude Challenge Three…
More and more, I want my outward life to represent the inner workings of my heart.
Nothing fancy, a little messy, second-hand, does the job it’s given well.
Our next challenge…Examine where we might be valuing our status symbols, our outward appearances, over the status of our insides, our heart only God can fully see.
This life here is not eternal. I can’t run myself skinny enough to make that so. I can’t decorate my table fabulous enough to make it last. And driving the fancy car doesn’t make me more important than anyone else.
What will last are the things most people won’t see about our lives.
Genuine love, servant leadership, vulnerable confession, grateful worship.
The things that will shape hearts, point them to our Saviour, and will last in eternity cannot be purchased, spit-shined, and driven around for all to see.
But they are the outward things I want God to grow in my heart.
Then maybe others see Him in my every day, nothing fancy, second-hand-car-driving, messy life.
Instead of me.