January 26, 2009

Character Building 101

And this is how it all unfolded:

Saturday - while the rest of my family was at the movies - I took the Jeep to get an oil change. I only have to do this once every 6 months because of the short distance it's driven each week. That's the one nice thing in the story! When they change your oil they also check the air pressure in your tires and fill them accordingly. Apparently when carrying out this simple task the mechanic damaged the valve stem. How do I know this? Because when I went out into the garage to head to Olivet yesterday my back left tire was flat as a pancake. [Valve stem damage verified by mechanic at tire shop].

Oil Change (w/2 new wiper blades) = $60

Yesterday, with the help of my trusty friend Brent, we put my spare on. This is a task in itself b/c the spare on my Jeep is full size - enormous! This morning I took it in to get the tire fixed. The spare was in the back of my Jeep. Apparently (that word will be used more than once in this story) when pulling the tire out of the back of the Jeep the mechanic pulled the back window out a little - in other words, the zipper came out of it's track. As I'm about to leave I notice this, so I try to fix the zipper. This did not happen. Instead, I broke the pulley completely off the zipper track, cracking it to the point that it is rendered useless. So the back window of my Jeep is now inside the Jeep. And I'd like to point out that it's 15 degrees and the snow is on the way!

Flat Tire Fix = $14.59

I get to my office and call Off Road Motorsports. They tell me, "You need to call an upholstery shop for that!" So I got out the trusty Yellow Pages and found Upholstery Repair. After 3 phone calls I am coming to grips with the reality that zipper repair is a profitable industry. I now have an appointment for Wednesday - which will take all day - to have my zipper replaced.

Zipper Repair = $150

I share this ridiculous chain of events with you for several reasons. First off, hopefully you can laugh. There are moments in life that are either laugh or cry, and my feeling is those moments are even better when they're somebody else's. I grant you full permission: laugh it up! Second, I've wondered if everyone down at Lou's Oil Spot would appreciate this story enough to realize that they are ultimately responsible for all this havoc raining down on me over the past 48 hours? I'm going to save some time and energy and guess, No. But most importantly I think this little episode is a prime example of what we can call God's Character Building 101. Here's what I mean.

We face situations and circumstances like this and - if we're being honest - we want to scream, "God! Why? Are you not paying attention? Do you think I need this right now? Can't you see I have enough to worry about? Don't you love me? WHY?" We really just want someone to blame for the mayhem and since He is in charge of the universe and all, God usually seems to be the easiest target. We're also tempted to think that it's now become our turn once more to take God's Character Building 101 class - we think that He has nothing better to do with His day than to shape our character. I'm not saying that He doesn't shape our character or even that He doesn't have time to focus on us. But I think the bigger picture is this: God doesn't rein down havoc in our lives to build or shape our character - He allows these things to unfold in front of us to REVEAL our character. When the dominoes finally stop knocking one another down in my little story, He wants me to see how I've reacted, how I've treated people, how I've maintained self-control, and continued to keep in mind that there are other people in the world starving and homeless. What a revelation! This is life.

So now I'm looking forward to the fact that my shifter, clutch, transmission, or something that allows me to shift gears is "apparently" breaking down and I will soon be forced to shell out another undisclosed ridiculous amount of money. And once again, I'll get to find out what I'm really made of!

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