Several months ago, I heard the noise that no car driver wants to hear: the crunching of my car frame against metal. FUUUUUDDDDGGGGEEEEE, I thought to myself, “A Christmas Story” style. Fudge, fudge fudge.
I had been pulling into a parking space at the gas station, desperate to relieve my teensy bladder after a long drive up the interstate. I had seen the metal pole that marked the space. I just didn’t realize how close I was to it until it was too late.
Maybe it will just be a small paint scratch, I thought. Maybe just a penny-sized ding.
Turns out, I had quite a large dent (read: CRATER) going up the entire length of my grill and hood, exactly in the shape of that pesky 4-foot high metal pole.
We know deep down when something like this happens that it’s not a big deal. No humans were injured. It’s just a car. And yet…it’s something more than that for some of us. That was my beautiful, brand spankin’ new, makes-me-feel-like-James-Bond car. My vanity and pride came running and screaming, calling for that dent to get fixed NOW. Find the money, ’cause leaving that horrible awful dent in the front of such a beautiful car that makes me look freaking fabulous is NOT an option.
I took my sad little Mazda to the body shop for an estimate, and the honest owner fed me the truth: The dent and paint scratches were cosmetic only. No chance of rust developing; no safety systems compromised. It was just a matter of whether or not I wanted the hood to look brand new or slightly crunched. My prideful, image-conscious self was all but throwing my credit card at the body shop owner.
But, that’s when God came running out waving her arms and calling a time out. Just a few months before my tragic incident at Sheetz, I read the most life-changing book of my life: 7 by Jen Hatmaker. As I sat there, prepared to fork over what some people on this earth would consider a small fortune for cosmetic-only damage on my car, a certain part of the book came flooding back to me. This is a lengthy quote below, but SO worth reading:
“What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it? Is there a reason Jesus called the rich blind, deaf, unseeing, unhearing, and foolish? Jesus never utters a positive word about the wealthy, only tons of parables with us as the punch line and this observation: It is terribly hard for us to receive His kingdom, harder than shoving a camel through the eye of a needle. That’s really hard. If this is true, then more than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity.
Shall we stop imagining these sad, sorry rich people belong to a different demographic? A brave believer admits, ‘He’s talking about me.’ Look at our houses, cars, closets, our luxuries; if we are not rich, then no one is. If we aren’t swept up in entitlement, indulgence, and extravagance, then Jesus is a fool, and let’s get back to living. If tithing the minimum and consuming the rest is okay, then we can dismiss Jesus’ ideas and act obsessed about other stuff He said.
But what if?…What if we are camels, on this side of the needle, dangerously content with our fake gospel and avoiding the actual Christian life described in Scripture? What if the number of Christ followers is a fraction of those who claim to be? What if only some have ears to hear and eyes to see, and Jesus was not exaggerating when He predicted few would choose this narrow path and folks will be shocked on judgment day?”
Mic drop, amiright??
Y’all, I’m not going to lie. Despite knowing that Jesus would always, always choose to use money to feed the poor versus making his whip look shiny and sparkly, deciding whether to fix my cosmetic-only dent was H-A-R-D for me. I knew what the right answer was, and I knew God was trying to teach me a lesson, but I still struggled so hard against it. “I want to be a good steward of my resources, my car being one of them.” “It’s not like it’s actually going to cost that much to repair in the big scheme of things.” “It’s not bad to want to fix our mistakes, right?”
But, Laura, think about what that money could be used for instead. Do you believe in the lessons Jesus taught? Yes? Then it’s time to act on it.
Ultimately, after several weeks of trying to find a way out of it, I let God convict my selfish heart about that dent. I took the money that it would have cost to repair my car, and I donated it to a nonprofit that was on my heart at the time: Miracle Messages, an organization that helps homeless individuals attempt to connect with their loved ones via social media.
The weight that lifted from my shoulders after I pressed the “donate now” button on that website was extraordinary. As hard as it is sometimes to pull the trigger, doing the right thing always, always, always feels better than doing the selfish thing. No more anxiety about that dent. No guilt. I still have a long way to go when it comes to conquering my own vanity and selfish ambitions, but this one small rebellious act was such a victory.
And you know what’s funny? With each passing month, that dent seems to look smaller and smaller. I now see that enormous, offensive crater for what it really is: a small, non-consequential blemish that few will ever notice and that will have no bearing whatsoever on anyone’s soul or well-being.
For more posts written by Laura, follow her blog, Très Belle!