I recently became the proud owner of a new (well, new to me) car ... and I’m proud to announce that I’m still alive.
Yes, I lived to tell of the test drives, negotiations, high pressure sales, and the extensive consumer report research. I battled through the OAC’s, the APR’s, and the OTD’s. And after it was all said and done, paperwork signed and hands shaken, I drove off into the sunset (literally) in my new (again — new to ME) ride.
If you’ve ever gone through the car buying process, you know that it holds the power to make you consider taking public transportation for the rest of your life.
This just so happened to be the first time I took on the challenge by myself — and I thought I was a man before? My mom always told me that vegetables and my older brothers would put hair on my chest, but she mistakenly left out the process of negotiating with car salesmen on that list. But from start to finish — loan approval to driving off the lot — I was ready to take it all head on and learn while flying solo.
What I didn’t expect were the feelings of freedom and personal growth when it was all over. And though they are all incredibly cliche, I did walk away with not just a new (to ME) car, but a few lessons learned:
1. Mistakes don’t define you. And they’re not permanent. Come to find out, big decisions apparently paralyze me. I’m afraid of making the WRONG choice and dealing with the consequences for the rest of my life. Fear is a powerful thing — and it has the power to keep us from even making a GREAT choice.
No matter what car I drove away with, I was going to deal with not just the bad, but the good (maybe even GREAT) that came with it. Scripture tells us to “be not afraid” on several accounts. And while I’m convinced it wasn’t used in a “Honda or Ford” situation, we can have confidence that even the small mistakes will not define us.
2. Change is a good thing. It goes without saying that we’re creatures of habit. We cling to the traditional and familiar. We avoid the different and the unknown. But sometimes, change — whether it be big or small — can be incredibly freeing in our lives. Change brings new experiences and new challenges. Change can open up your eyes and bring new perspectives.
Feel stuck in a job you’ve been at for a while? Start taking steps towards a new career path. Bored with your commute to work? Map out a new route to take in the mornings. Embrace change, and the freedom that can potentially come from it.
3. “Things” don’t fill voids. As excited as I was to drive off the lot in a new (OK, you get it by now) car, I’ll be honest and say it’s still just a car. It has four wheels, four doors, an engine, and a steering wheel. It gets me from point A to B safely.
No matter what I own the title to now, a car doesn’t bring eternal joy. Over time, the excitement of new things or toys we buy fade and become things of the past. A well-known pastor puts it this way: “Everything you own is the stuff of future garage sales and dumps.” We weren’t designed to find the joy we search for in “stuff” — but in Christ.
So there you have it. Now, when you see me driving around ‘Tukee in my new (.........) car, you have permission to roll down your window, throw your fist in the air, and yell “Mistakes don’t define me!”
Oh... and I’m loving my USED Ford Edge.
• Colin Noonan is director of youth ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee. Ease his slightly anxious heart by sharing your POSITIVE Ford experiences with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.