Fresh off the plane we had a 3 hour wait for our rental car, watching the hustle and bustle of life passing around us at the busy San Francisco Airport, then we would be on our way to the hotel where the 7 of us (and a puppy that was added a couple weeks later; not really a bribe, more of a fulfilled promise) would stay till we found a home; our time in those living quarters ended up being a nearly 3 month span.
Before getting to the hotel though, Mark needed us to pick up his car he had bought while living in California on his own. It was at a dealership where it had been in for a tune up while he was back in Wisconsin helping us finish up details.
Now, it must be understood, I do not know cars. I never claimed to – they all look roughly the same to me with 4 tires, doors and windows on a box that moves along the road.
My husband, knowing this about me, but perhaps not understanding the full depth of my ignorance, drove us to a jam packed parking lot with just the brief instructions “see it over there? The silver car? The keys are inside – just get in and drive. We’ll see you at the hotel.”
I can’t quite claim that he physically pushed us out, but it sure felt that way as Lydia and I got out of the rental vehicle holding the rest of the family, and stood in the vast parking lot trying to find his car. Finally we started making our way roughly toward the cluster of silver colored vehicles his sweeping hand had indicated.
Blankly, I turned to Lydia.
“Oh dear. What kind of car did dad say he bought again honey?”
We both turned to look toward where Mark and the other kids had been, but they were already gone.
We had woken that morning in Wisconsin, left all we’d ever known behind, and now, here we were, stranded in a California parking lot filled with cars, but unsure which one to climb into.
Well, I may not have car smarts, but I did know that half the battle when you’re unsure is to at least appear confident. I strode over to a likely looking car, and, opening the door, told Lydia to get in.
Tilting her head, skepticism all over her face, she ventured “Um, mom? I don’t think this is dad’s car.”
But I was too busy muttering to myself about his unbelievable departure “I can’t believe he didn’t even wait for us – Honey, just get in – I cannot believe he just left like that – I don’t even know where I am! How will we ever find him? Somehow, we have to catch up! Honey – Please – Just get in!”
She obeyed, shaking her head and said a bit louder from the back seat “Mom, I don’t think this is dad’s car.”
It barely registered. I was too busy searching for the car keys. “Fiddlesticks! Dad said the keys would be right here, and they’re not! Can you believe this? This is unbelievable! Now what are we going to do?” I rifled through the glove compartment – “Nope, not there either.”
I sat quietly in the seat, pondering what to do next, and as my eyes focused on the leather wrapped steering wheel, I saw some letters that formed a word. And slowly, something dawned on me. “Hey, Dad didn’t get a Volvo, did he?”
Lydia, completely exasperated firmly rejoined, “No Mom – I told you – this is not his car!”
Sheepishly, we got out, only to see a group of salesmen nearby carefully watching us. Lydia was hoping to come across as a potentially interested buyer of the vehicle we had just exited, a hope I shot to pieces with my chuckle and candid admission, “Ha! We got in the wrong car!”
They nodded in agreement, eyebrows raised, pointing to the silver Toyota Avalon parked nearby. Lydia, flaming with embarrassment was getting in as quickly as she could; I too got in, found the keys in the ignition, started it up and drove away.
About 3 seconds down the road, we both burst into laughter at the hilarity of this red-faced moment. In fact, it’s still providing laughs for us today, whenever we think about it.
Sometimes I’ve struggled with taking myself too seriously; I get embarrassed easily or don’t want people to know I mess up ~ But God keeps showing me that He wants me to be authentic – it’s ok to let others know that I have areas that I’m weak in, flaws and red faced moments (lots in fact). Like Paul said in II Corinthians 12:9, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
What an incredible freedom it is to stop trying to be what is impossible for anyone to achieve: Perfection doesn’t exist – except in Jesus Christ ~ and He wants to give me His power to use in my life to show that He is at work in me! Amazing! And freeing…
Are you using the freedom you have in Christ to let go of trying to be perfect? Christians ought to be the most joy filled beings on the planet! Let’s talk…you know- between friends.