How My Car Teaches Me About God, Parenting and Myself

I went to Mass this morning in a pretty good mood, about half-way into my trip, I put on a Podcast talking about what happens during Mass.  I am actually not sick today — feeling pretty good physically; so that helped my happy mood, too.  I was running a little late and walked into church just a few seconds before Mass began.  Literally, I walked in the chapel just ahead of Fr. John and probably caused him to have to wait for me at the baptismal font.

I usually have a very difficult time with distractions during Mass.  Not that I don’t want to be fully engaged, but Fr. JJ thinks that I may have a little bit of ADHD, and I keep having to bring myself back to what is occurring in front of me.  My mind wanders so very easily.  But today, I managed to stay mostly focused (by the grace of God, certainly).  As Mass continued, I became increasingly joyful, almost to the point of grinning.  (I try not to do that, though — wouldn’t want Father to think I was laughing at him or something.)  I became so joyful, that I was worried about after Mass for a moment, because I intended to ask Fr. John about the outcome of the vote in the Michigan senate (?) about partial-birth abortions, and it just wouldn’t do to be smiling when one asks about that sort of thing.

After Mass, I caught him and he asked how I was doing (“Very, very good!  You?”) and then he paused when I asked about the partial-birth abortions and said that he hadn’t heard anything other than they were supposed to vote on Wednesday, but didn’t, then they were supposed to vote yesterday, but didn’t — and to keep praying.  He started inching towards the door (and his car) again, while I remained behind to talk to a friend whose wife is due in just a few weeks with their second child.

As I left and approached my car, I saw something concerning.  I stopped and looked at the passenger side and there was one — no, two — vertical dents in the door.  Obviously, someone had hit my car with their door.  My car is not quite 5 months old, and it’s the first new car I’ve ever had.  I stood there for a second, feeling the dents, waiting to feel anger — for surely that has always been my response to things like this — a visceral, self-righteous hatred of the negligent offender.  To my surprise, that anger…never came.  I was still happy and joyful, and I didn’t understand why.

So, I pondered this.

First, I thought about how even though it was important to me, it was just a thing.  And things will come and go.

Second, I don’t have control over anything other than my own actions.  I can try to protect my car, but there is going to be a time (quite frequently) where I am not around and it is going to be on its own, for better or for worse.  I have to learn to let go and not try to cling or control all situations.  Worry and anger aren’t going to change anything, and they aren’t going to prevent anything — so, why be anxious?

Third, as I looked at my car, I felt sorry, and I think I actually said something to it like, “I’m sorry this happened to you, but I still love you just the same.”  Now, I’m not really in love with my car.  Certainly, I like it and I enjoy it, but I’m not obsessed with it or anything like that.  So I thought about what I said and realized that in a way, this might be how God feels about us.  He may be sorry that bad things happen to us, and sorrowful when we sin, knowing that we are hurting ourselves, but He loves us anyway — despite our dents.  And in the end, when we go home, we may look at one another and see all of the dents that we have and praise God all the more for His mercy and His grace and His aid to help us through all the rough patches during our pilgrimage here.

Fourth, I wondered at the power of the Eucharist, for certainly this grace that was given to me to look beyond myself and my interests had to have come from Him.  It *had* to be due to the presence of God dwelling within me.  What an amazing thing that is!  I hope that I am always open to having Him work through me, and to be able to reflect His love onto others.  To not only work towards, but to desire to conform myself to Christ.

Finally, I prayed for the person who dented my car.  Perhaps they were having a really bad day and they need prayer to help with whatever situation they were/are in.  Perhaps it was an accident and they felt horrible about it, and they need to know that it’s okay, that they can slip up and still be loved by God and by their neighbors.  Perhaps they were just negligent and uncaring, in which case I pray that God will open their hearts to a sense of communion with others and work on their heart to make them desire to fully be a part of the Body of Christ.

Then, I looked at myself, and wondered if maybe this wasn’t just a small beginning into understanding what it means to lead a Christian life, and to want the good for others and to die to self.  For certain, it is only a very, very small step, but just maybe I’ll be able to take something away from this experience and be able to apply it in the future in a positive way.

Have a joyous, blessed day!  🙂

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