Saturday, July 28, 2012

Old Friend

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 

Well, sorry to cheapen your words, Charles Dickens, but this is the plight of used car owners if I do say so. He might also add, it was the most hilarious of times...because let's face it, car trouble is kind of funny. I bid farewell to my trusty steed this week, christened Icabod my freshman year of college by my roommate Megan. I once stumbled across the name in a book, the footnote of which read, No glory. Fitting enough.

My mom bought shiny little Icabod brand new when I was nine...and got hit by a naughty red-light-runner on the way home! This was the start of great things.

He served as a trusty family vehicle for many years until my spunky 17-year-old self totaled my own first car on the freeway...after which poor Icabod became my charge. (Trust the older car to the human with the underdeveloped frontal lobe - good move, mom.) And what a time we had, driving to LA and all over the mountains above San Bernadino the summer before college. I assumed he could take me anywhere, and put him to the test a fair amount. I always loved driving, and Icabod actually served me really well.

Oh, he had his quirks. The volume knob, for instance, did whatever it wanted. Oh you wanted to turn the music down? Whoops, now it's blasting. For twenty minutes. All the while you embarrassedly try to make it stop. Hehe. The butthead.

I remember the first time the passenger sun visor fell on someone's head - that was pretty funny. Then I remember when the driver side did the same thing and made me jump a foot out of my seat in alarm. After that it hardly caused a reaction: it falls out, shove it back in, keep driving.

Then there was the time when I drove it into a telephone pole when I was 18. And by drove, I don't mean daintily tapped. (Oh, that was the gas pedal?!) My friends, who had just gotten out of the car to go deliver something while I parked, turned around and comically trudged back to the car - I don't think we ever completed that delivery. While I was still working to get it fixed, I got pulled over for no other offense than having a sketchy-looking car. Well it's true, Icabod was butt-ugly without a bumper.

There was the era when the brakes hardly worked, and made a sound like Lost's island beast every time you needed to stop. I kid you not - these brakes turned heads. All of them. I think I counted 9 trips to the shop in one year before finally getting it fully fixed....oh cars. :)

There was the time the timing chain skipped and we somehow still decided to fix it. And we (read, my friend) pushed it up a hill to a parking spot till I could have it towed. There were flat tires and missing hubcaps, quirky trips to the Autoparts store (where one in five men will hit on you and try to sound impressive about cars). There were honest and dishonest mechanics. There was the evolution as a driver from "It's making a sound in the the thingamabob," to "It sounds like a fuel injector issue..." There were oops-I-curbed-it-again moments. Oh yeah, and a couple tickets...(several years ago, I promise).

There were also the friends I carted around in it, making them listen to my terrible music (Pandora has helped me greatly, friends). There were the places we went, from California and all over Arizona: longer road trips and short getaway day trips. There were the goofy memories, the silly memories, and the frustrating memories (Did you have to die right now??). There were night drives just to see the city lights and think life over. There were pothole-dodging routes (Tucson...). It was my college car, my questionably trusty steed who gave me his best. Poor Icabod put up with a younger version of myself who was a much more cocky headstrong driver (re: frontal lobe development). And in turn, he allowed me the independence I craved - and probably needed. He was a great car until the end...or until approximately 5 months before the end. ;)

We'll see what the next adventure holds!

On to bigger and better things, but you didn't hear it from me - Goodbye Icabod!

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Mess

It has been almost a month since I last wrote! Wow. Every so often these little stretches of time pass for one reason or another...This time it's that I have been growing a lot and just haven't had occasion - or time - to share it. I pray that what I have to say today expresses what I want to share, that it reaches grace into the hearts and minds of those who read it.

Straight up: I am messy. I like clean. I like it quite a bit, actually. There are certain things that I am fastidious about. But dishes often take me a little while to get to, I tend to leave things (like coffee cups) littering my desk, and my room easily gets cluttered with things I don't know what to do with. I frequently "donate" my water bottle or my keys to any random place I set them general I just have a certain degree of mess in my day to day life. My heart is messy too. Like in my room, there are all kinds of things in my heart that I don't know what to do with. But unlike my room, this is the mess that drives me crazy.

This mess, though, is where grace has an opportunity to powerfully affect my life. I respond to any symptom of not being "together" by trying harder. Several friends in my life have suggested that I am perhaps a little too disciplined towards myself, and sometimes I admit it's true. If I fault, I tend toward legalism and control, throwing grace out with the bathwater. I set up a careful network of discipline, reward, and punishment mentally because I very much dislike not being in good spiritual alignment.

But here is the beauty...that I am. I am a mess, some days far more than others. For all the strength and grace that God has given me, this heart is still far from the picture-perfect model I would like it to be. In a flat sense, there is just work to be done. I do not have many things together. I have a ways to journey, a ways to heal, a far road to walk. But God doesn't wait for us to be perfect, or even near perfect, to bless us. That's the part that is so hard to understand because in a weird way, I want to earn it. Desperately! Do you? I want to be good enough for it. I want to be able to measure what I deserve by how obedient I have or haven't been. But God does not work that way, and that is the most beautiful piece of grace. I can't earn it. God will bless me, mess and all, because He is good. He trades beauty for ashes, and that's perhaps when our hearts praise Him the loudest because we know we have not done a thing to deserve it. All He asks is that we trust Him.

So here I am, messy and healing, but so deeply blessed. Where are you? Have you let yourself admit how drastically you must depend on God? For this is about dependence. Unlike the clutter in my room, I cannot fully clean my own heart, and neither can you. We can rearrange and rearrange until we are blue in the face, but God in His indelible grace truly cleans the space. By His sheer goodness and love, He makes what was unsightly and mildewy now bright and clean. And even before that process is complete (because it never fully is), He blesses us richly and deeply. Our God is good.