Starting a couple months ago I started regularly praying that God would show me all that I take for granted, to see my life more through his eyes and appreciate all the abundance that surrounds me.
Meanwhile, we bought a minivan since we’re about to have three kids in car seats. Perhaps because of the fruits of prayer, or maybe just because I had been reading too many Dave Ramsey books lately, we bought a very cheap, used minivan.
When I initially set out on the car search I had a list of just a few little things that I “needed” in a car. I was open to making sacrifices but, hey, this is not the third world. There were certain things, I decided, that are just too crucial to live without, and at the top of that list was an automatic passenger door (for the minivan illiterate, some models now allow you to open that side sliding door by remote control). Every one of the mothers I talked to about the minivan purchase spoke of the automatic door as if it’s something mentioned by name in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, so I decided that I too must have one.
After a lot of searching we found a deal on a minivan in Houston that was too good to pass up. It had a lot of great features, except no automatic door. My husband offered to keep searching since he knew how much I wanted that feature, but I told him that I could do without. Through my deep spirituality I would find a way to make this sacrifice. (Some people wash the sores of lepers in Calcutta, others drive minivans without automatic doors. Every saint has his or her own path to holiness.)
When my mother-in-law first drove the car up from Houston (we had her handle the deal since she lives there), the first thing I thought of was the door, and my great sacrifice. I walked up to the car and pulled on the handle to magnanimously open it the old fashioned way…and the stupid thing came off in my hand.
“Oh, yeah, ” my mother-in-law said. “The seller mentioned that that passenger handle is broken, just a total mess. It really takes some work to operate it. I didn’t think that would bother y’all so I forgot to mention it.”
So, after nearly breaking my arm patting myself on the back about my great willingness to use one hand to open my car door, I now own a minivan whose door requires not just the use of both hands, but the dexterity of a ninja, the strength of a weightlifter, and the focus of a Zen master (anecdotal evidence indicates that loud profanity is helpful as well).
It’s about a nine step process, involving pulling hard on one side of the handle while carefully balancing the other side so that it doesn’t come off, in which case you have to start all over. Every time I’m in the middle of this endeavor and it’s about a thousand degrees outside and I have groceries sitting on the ground and a toddler who’s imminent to bolting out into the parking lot, the thought pops into my head, “Still think that having a minivan with a regular door is such a sacrifice?” It’s probably my subconscious, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it’s not the very voice of God.
I am not a big fan of stating definitively what is and is not the hand of God directly acting in my life to teach me lessons. It’s impossible to ever know for sure. However, I cannot help but think that this situation is far too humorous to be coincidence, as well as the perfect answer to my recent prayers — a much-needed slap upside the head to remind me that I’m not a living St. Clare for making changes in my life that only the richest of the rich would consider a “sacrifice”. Touché, God, touché.
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