I know I tend to be a teensy weensy bit over-dramatic. But trust me when I say it’s more likely I’m being under-dramatic when I tell you I have the worst car luck. Like the worst. It’s so bad I’ve grown accustomed to it. I’m so resigned to it my best friend told me today she’d be vicariously frustrated for me because I shrugged it off. C’est la vie, ya know? But still, going through 6 cars in 12 years with a minimum of at least 2 major and unavoidable car problems a year is a lot. And it is frustrating. So, why am I writing about it? Because in the past 2 years, car problems have taught me a lot about life. And I think I might know what the key to truly living is.
Two years ago, I wrote about riding to Boerne with my best friend when she missed her turn and didn’t realize it. Instead of questioning her driving, I trusted she knew where she was going. And that super convicted me. How could I so often question an all-knowing God and not question a human I knew was wrong? Sometimes it’s easier to trust what and who we can see and feel than it is to trust Someone we can’t see or feel. It’s easier to trust wrong directions when you know where you’re going than to trust the right directions leading you to the unknown. It’s especially easier when you already have such a hard time trusting in the first place.
Earlier this year, I was chatting with our connections pastor between church services. And he gave me profoundly simple advice. Trust the fruit. As I said, trust is hard for me. Even when life hurts, I can trust God will never hurt me. He may refine me, which certainly hurts, but He will never hurt me because He loves me. I know this. I even trust it (most of the time). How can I trust people won’t hurt me though? Flawed people are hurt people and hurt people hurt people. That’s when the pastor told me to trust the fruit. Will my favorite people hurt me in life? Absolutely. If not already, then everyone will hurt me at some point. So, how can I know if I can trust them after the hurt? It’s simple, but not easy. Trust the fruit. What is their regular behavior like? Is it normal for this person to hurt me? Or has this person consistently loved me? That’s my answer. That’s how I know I can trust them.
A couple of months ago, my car died. Again. I was on my way home from a church meeting and ice cream social. Then, Nymphadora the Explorer made a furious noise that made me pull over to the shoulder of a highway. I wanted to cry. I was in the middle of moving and starting a new job. I was already so overwhelmed. And, I so did not need car problems on top of everything else. To be fair, I had known for a while she (my car) would be dying sooner than later. But I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t make her live a little while longer. Why let everything happen at one time? Trust.
I sent SOS text messages to my best friends and grandparents to have them praying for the situation. Then, I called my car insurance for a tow. The wait would be an hour and a half. For real? It was hot and I was in blue jeans. Why would God let my car die on the highway and make me wait so long for a tow truck? Trust.
I called my best friend to see if she was still at church. I was hoping she could ask someone if they could tow me home. If nothing else, I figured she was still with her boyfriend whom I knew had a truck and would help if possible. Perfect timing. They were about to leave when I called and were trying to decide how they would spend the evening. Apparently, they’d be helping me. (Though, to be honest, she & I didn’t actually do anything. He did all the work & in flip-flops. Very impressive.)
Here’s the thing though. I didn’t want their help. I didn’t want anyone’s help, but I really didn’t want their help. I have bad car luck. I also have bad luck with friends who get boyfriends and I so did not want to deal with that with my best friend. So, I had sort of avoided them at the ice cream social after our church meeting. Partly because I was talking with other people, but I also because I didn’t want to feel like a third wheel. God had other plans. I had to ask for help–something I hate doing–from the couple I did not want to bother. And then the boyfriend made a joke about making a date of the night when we had to go to the hardware store for a tow rope. Great. Exactly what I wanted. To be a third-wheel on a date. He was joking, but I wasn’t. Car problems and spending time with an adorable couple when I’m alone? No thanks. But, beggars can’t be choosers. Anyway, long story short, we ended the night at Whataburger and it was one of the most fun and relaxing nights I’d had in a while. They were cute and flirty with each other, but I didn’t feel like a third wheel. I felt like I was hanging with my friends who just happened to be dating now. My guy friend was still my guy friend. And my best friend was still my best friend. Nothing had changed.
So, why did God let my car die when I was already dealing with so much? Trust. He was reminding me to trust the fruit. His fruit of always providing. My best friend’s fruit of never letting me down in almost a decade of friendship. (She’s not perfect or anything, but I can trust her fruit.) And the fruit of my guy friend who was still my guy friend. (I’ve only had a handful of guy friends in my life and none of those friendships ended well. So far, this guy friend is working out so well I even want him to matter more to my best friend than I ever could. How’s that for fruit? (And, for the record, I like being single, but sometimes it sucks. And that’s a post for another time.))
For the past couple of weeks, I was driving a fancy (for me) car while my new car was being fixed. (I repeat, the WORST car luck.) It was a 2018 Honda Civic and I hated it. It had those fancy cameras that help you see your blind spots. Very convenient, but also very distracting. And anxiety-inducing. When you see everything that could wrong, it’s helpful, sure. It’s also terrifying. I should know. I identify as an enneagram 6. And, that’s sort of my point. As helpful as it can be to anticipate or see everything that could go wrong, it’s also exhausting, distracting, and in my opinion dangerous. Toward the end of the car loan, I found myself relying more on the camera than my eyes and that could’ve caused problems. So, what has that taught me? I have to trust myself and my instinct. I can’t rely on seeing what could be a problem all the time. Sometimes, and I think more often than not, I have to trust what I can see for myself and go from there.
So, how does all this tie together? What’s the common denominator? And what is the key to truly living? I think it’s trust. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love people as you love yourself. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love trusts.” (It says love is and does a lot of other things too, but that’s for another time.) If love trusts and love is the greatest commandment, then I think that’s the key to an abundant life. I have to trust God to take me where I’m supposed to be in life. I have to trust my people to love me and not (intentionally) hurt me when their fruit says they’re not like the people who have hurt me in the past. And I have to trust myself to make the right choices (with God’s help). When I can trust God, trust my people, and trust myself, life is a lot easier to deal with. Even when… no especially when I don’t know what God’s plan is. Even when… no especially when I’m afraid I’ll be hurt again (despite fruit that says otherwise). And even when…. no especially when I’ve never had to make this decision before. Because a love that trusts is a love that lasts and a love that lasts is what makes life worth living.
(No. I’m not even sorry for all the parenthesis. *insert Joey cake gif* #SorryNotSorry)