I pulled into the parking lot at the end of a long, difficult day and I quickly found an empty spot fairly close to the store entrance. It was a small victory in an otherwise disastrous day. I made a hasty exit from my car barely noticing anything around me. My mind was a million miles away.
As I stopped to grab a grocery cart, my attention was drawn to a car parked next to the cart return. The little red car had certainly seen better days. The body was dented, and the paint was scratched and fading. The front bumper barely held on and would have surely fallen to the ground were it not for the assistance of several bungee cords and a good amount of duct tape.
Frankly, I knew exactly how it felt; and looking at the shabby little car made me sad. I don’t usually peek into strange, parked cars, but I cautiously glanced in the passenger side window as I made my way past. What I saw there was nothing I had expected. The inside of the car looked nothing like the outside. In fact, it was clean and tidy. No leftover big gulp cups or crumbled burger wrappers carelessly tossed onto the floor. No crumbs or stains on the upholstery. I stopped and stared. (Probably longer than I should have.) It occurred to me that even though the car was tattered and beaten on the outside, the inside could still be tidy and clean. Spotless even. And isn’t that what really counts? The world can and will take it’s toll on us. Life is tough. Being a parent is hard. Don’t get me wrong, the good times are out-of-this-world amazing, but the hard times are well, hard. With help, we learn to work through the bad times with our head held high and our integrity intact. The world can’t touch what’s on the inside….unless we let it.
This little car might be battered and worn, but it was plain to see that someone still cared about it. It was loved by somebody. It didn’t take long for me to appreciate the metaphor that had been lovingly placed in my path that day. This little car was a lot like me; tired and worn from the wallopings life had been sending my way. Nerves frazzled like exposed electrical wires waiting to spontaneously combust, and tears always at the ready.
Yep, I was a mess. But the parts that really matter, the stuff on the inside, could be whatever I wanted them to be. I get to choose how I react. I get to decide how I will handle the little snags and big obstacles life sends my way. With prayer and faith I can keep going. I can take on the chaos of life and make of it whatever I choose.
I’ve thought about this car for a week now, and it always reminds me that I can do this. I’m going to be okay. I might even be great. And if that’s your car up there, I think we should be friends.