Lessons From A 1998 Volvo.

I’m currently sitting at an auto shop. I’m watching the oil stained, grease-smeared guys walk too and fro between cars and trucks, chatting about fixes and discussing estimates. My car-dilemmas are at a point now where they are simply comical. I have a clean driving record, aside from a slew of parking tickets, but hey – can’t win ’em all. However, when it comes to working vehicles I think I just got dealt a lot of bad luck.

I know what you’re thinking – it can’t be that bad, right? Wrong. Last summer, in the course of 3 months I drove all three cars owned by my parents at some point or another. The first to break down was my own 1998 volvo. My dad was following me through Ohio in his own car (thank the Lord!) and my check engine light came on. One hotel bill plus a $700.00 auto shop bill later, we were back on the road. A few weeks after that I was driving my father’s car to Ann Arbor when I discovered it had somehow gotten a flat tire. Add $200.00 to the already sky high $700.00 car-fix-bill. THEN I had my mom’s Ford Escape with me in Westport, New York and something happened – I honestly don’t even remember what was wrong, but add another $150.00 dollars to the ever-mounting-pile of “Sarah Catherine manages to break every car she ever uses” bill.

It’s not me, I swear it’s not me. The things that break in these cars are never related to how the car is driven or how it’s maintained. But still, the odds aren’t appearing to be in my favor. Especially because just last week my parents paid almost $400.00 to have my car serviced, an oil change, and the breaks worked on and yet here I sit at an auto shop. I had driven from Virginia to Ohio to Michigan and when I was finally back home yesterday I went to roll my back windows up (because you see, my air conditioner is permanently broken – that would have been a $1,000.00 fix and the car isn’t even worth that much so whenever I go somewhere in the spring/summer I just sweat it out and thank God my car even started up to begin with.) and low and behold – one of them would not budge. I tried everything. I even watched youtube videos about what could possibly be wrong and how to fix it. Nothing.

I feel as though I can hear God chuckling at me from up in heaven. I just roll my eyes because this is His way of reminding me that life happens. I can strategically plan out every second of my day, but it will never actually go as planned. I need to accept that these little things will occur and they need to be dealt with. This wasn’t a part of MY schedule. I didn’t budget time for this. Or money, for that matter. But here I sit.

I digress – more on the car saga later.

Last night I walked into church to rehearse with the worship team and I finally felt like I was home. I love these people, this place, this home of mine. These human beings are so special and unique and every other positive adjective in the book. They are honest, kind, funny, talented, humble, loving, and I could go on and on. But mostly, they are Godly and inspiring. I realized last night, more than ever before, that this I where my heart is – this is my safe place. Right here. Right now. With these people who keep me grounded, lift me up in prayer. I can be real here. There is space for me – ALL of me…even the messiest, broken up parts.

Dear God, I am so grateful for these people and this place.

And I’m realizing that it’s time to reevaluate, rebuild, remodel. Myself. From the inside out. Because God has been whispering, prodding, nudging me towards doors that I have been refusing to open for fear of what may be waiting on the other side, for fear of what people around me may think or say, for fear of not being good enough.  As much work as my car needs….maybe I need just as much (let’s be real – I need a LOT more than this sad, old vehicle.)

I’ve hesitantly cracked a few of these doors open, hoping I could just catch a glimpse and then somehow work their contents into my own plan. Plot twist: it’s not possible. God is a magnificent God, but we can’t live to our full potentials while clinging to our own plans. It’s a door fully open or door fully closed type of living that will either make or break us.

My determination to see what’s on the other side of the door before allowing myself to walk through it has done nothing more than left me feeling unsettled and unsteady…maybe even a bit empty. So, one of my goals for these precious summer months is to fling the door wide open – whatever that may mean in the moment. I plan to search for stillness to get me through the emptiness and the pain of whatever comes my way.

Stillness.

Peace.

Unshakeable Joy.

My people – my tribe – have taught me that it is safe to be seen and heard. Where being seen and heard has previously felt terrifying and life threatening, I am finding that, with the right people it is safe, solid, comforting, and even healthy. It’s in the stillness I am searching for that I know I will be allowed to be seen and to heal, grow, evolve, and become grounded.

There’s a quiet place inside me that I bring with me, and when I start to feel the questions, the fear, the chaos, I locate that quiet, that stillness, that grounded place. When you begin to carry God’s love and true peace deep within your actual soul like a treasure chest, you realize that you don’t have to fling yourself around the planet searching for those things outside yourself.”

-Shauna Niequist “Present Over Perfect”

I slammed the doors shut so that I could feel safe, protected, and reside in the familiar. But in slamming the doors shut I also shut out all the love, adventure, freedom, and joy that they contained. When you shut yourself off from some of it, you end up shutting yourself off from ALL of it. I so badly want to be present and live in the here and now – the mess, the pain, the fabulous, and the amazingness of all life has to offer, but I find myself resorting to closing the door at the first sign of failure. Fear is a messy, messy thing, my friends. Fear causes us to react in ways that aren’t pro-active or positive.

Here’s my reality: I can do far less than I have always believed that I can do.

I would set myself on fire, drown in a bucket full of caffeine, fly off on a rocket of productivity, check-lists, to-do’s, etc, as long as it would help me keep going…thing after thing after thing, time after time after time. But I can’t do it any longer. And I won’t do it any longer.

I’m realizing that people are more important to me than performance. Relationships are more valuable than resumes. Wholeness and stillness will get me farther than check lists and certificates of achievement ever will.

What is rest? What is relaxation?

It’s been far too long since I’ve felt all of that.

So the doors I’m throwing open this summer are the doors to stillness, to wholeness, to rest, to relationships, to worship. I so badly want to be good at what I do. But it’s more important to me to be present in my life and the lives of those around me. I want to be an encourager, a good listener, and above all else – I want to love as many people as I possibly can.

Life is too short to be wound up tight and obsessed with checking things off of lists, living by a strict calendar, and running from place to place frantically trying to get as much done as possible.

I’m searching for stillness, wholeness, and rest and I am leaning hard into my tribe of people to help me make it all happen. I’m determined to quit living my life in order to build a list of accomplishments and start living it to build my soul – to make space for whatever and wherever God leads.

Summer sun, road trips (Lord willing the car will cooperate), adventures with my favorite pal, worship alongside my tribe of magnificent people, learning more about my Savior, and getting more in tune with wherever He leads me. I’m apprehensively excited about what’s to come.

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Here comes the mechanic working on my car – stay tuned for more of the car sage later on (there’s still 3 months of summer so I’m sure that more things will break – likely at the most inconvenient times. But hey, that’s life right? And if I’m living in the stillness of life, living for my soul, not my self, then I can take whatever life throws my way.)

A little bit of coffee, a little bit of sunshine, a great deal of prayer, and a whole LOT of my sweet Jesus ❤

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

-John 16:13

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I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
Anonymous

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