Recently while my son was hanging out at a friend’s house, his parked car got backed into and dented. That made me happy. I mean sad. Really, Son! I was sad!
Let me explain. Of course I felt bad for my son because his car would need body work. But Seth would get to use my car while I drove a rental provided by the other party’s insurance company. I figured they’d give me some sort of dull compact. It would be Seth’s gain. As a minor he couldn’t legally drive a rental car, so he’d enjoy my comfy Honda Accord for a week.
However, when I dropped off Seth’s car at the shop the rental provided to me turned out to be a Ford Mustang with cool racing stripes. That’s when I got happy. And Seth got bummed. Sorry about that, son, but thanks for parking in the wrong place at the wrong time so I could cruise around in an awesome sports car!
I’m not a car guy, but driving that Mustang was pretty sweet. It felt tough and muscular; my Honda seems kind of meek and plain. “Maybe I should get a sports car,” I thought. I am about the right age to start a midlife crisis.
Then it snowed. We get a big snowfall in our city about once a decade, so we have maybe two snowplows in town. A lot of the roads don’t get cleared. No problem for my front-wheel-drive Honda. For the Mustang—problem. At one point I backed it out of my driveway into the snowy street, put the car in gear, and…nothing. I put it in reverse to get some traction and…nothing. I put it back in drive and pressed ever so lightly on the gas pedal and…nothing. That is, nothing but the spinning of the rear wheels.
After 15 minutes of miniscule maneuvers I got the Mustang to the curb. Then I retrieved my Honda and drove easily to work. Perhaps I didn’t want a Mustang after all. “Sorry for doubting you, little Honda,” I murmured. “You’re still the car for me.”
Life is like that, isn’t it? The things we think we want we end up not wanting, and things we think we don’t want are what we really want after all.
When I was in high school, for instance, I wanted to get into a real rock band that toured and made albums. And what do you know: A year after I graduated that dream came true. Then I found out being in a band involved more than just jamming on my guitar all day. We had to practice a lot and line up gigs and drive all night and wrestle heavy sound gear up and down stairs. It was a lot of work. Though I stuck with it and things turned out all right, there were times I really wondered why I ever wanted to be in a band.
In my early 20s, I thought I never wanted to get married. I liked women well enough, but the idea of living with one seemed too complicated. Then one day I suddenly changed my mind when I met the woman of my dreams. Wanting to get married just required meeting the right girl.
I thought I might want to have children. Possibly. As the youngest sibling in my family, I never spent much time around infants. They kind of scared me. But when I held my newborn son for the first time, it was all OK. I knew right away I’d like being a parent. Which was a good way to feel, because once you get a baby they tend to stay around for a while.
Several times I thought I wanted to quit going to church. Not just for a Sunday here or there, but for good. As a pastor’s son, I got sick of showing up for every church event there was. When I got older I thought I might leave it all behind. Then as a teenager, I finally realized church was about relationships, and I wanted to stay. Getting to know God and hanging out with my fellow believers became a desirable thing.
Since then, though, there have been times I’ve felt frustrated with church and wanted to quit again. But each time this happened, what I thought I wanted turned out not to be what I really wanted. I’d be lost without the fellowship of believers to provide wisdom and give support and occasionally knock me out of my comfort zone.
Without church, I’d probably only hang around with people exactly like me. Since I already annoy myself too much as it is, that’s not something I’d want at all.