I drive a minivan. I drive a 2004 Honda Odyssey with 230,000 miles on it. Try not to get jealous when I tell you the driver’s seat has a crack in the leather and there’s a hole in the carpet where my heel rests. Try to control your envy when I tell you for about a month the radio and lights kept shutting off and I had to bang the dashboard to get it to come back on. Try to curb your desire to be me when I say for a while the passenger side window wouldn’t stay closed without us folding pieces of cardboard and sticking them in the bottom to wedge it up. I’ll stop there lest I stir the green-eyed monster within you.
When my husband told me, 9 years ago, that he thought it would be best to purchase a minivan (for reasons I’m still unsure of today as I believe I blacked out a little when I pictured myself actually driving this thing) I remember thinking, “Ugh, this submitting to your husband thing is hard!” Didn’t he realize I swore I’d never drive a minivan? That I was never going to become that mom? It was so cliché: Marriage + Kids = Minivan. The same as Women + Grocery shopping = Yoga pants (Seriously, Ladies, does anyone own jeans anymore?). I was at a Bible Study one night and upon leaving a friend asked me what I drove. I pointed to the Swag Wag (as we dubbed it after seeing this cute video a few years ago) and she said, “Huh, I wouldn’t have thought that.” Yeah, me neither. Anyway, it was our first “Dave Ramsey” purchase (pay cash and never buy new) and it has faithfully taken us from A to B and back again regardless of how much I grumbled about driving it.
A few years back my husband left for work one day and came home a couple hours later unemployed. No warning, no severance, just “we no longer need you.” It was two years before he found a permanent job again and in the midst of those years I struggled a lot. I remember worrying if we were going to lose our home. I remember worrying if we could put food on the table. I remember counting change from a spare coin jar just to put gas in Swag. It was rough. I cried. I begged God. I questioned God. I felt ignored by God.
I looked at friends around us who weren’t struggling financially and found myself jealous of their “comfort.” I started thinking things like, “God, why are you blessing them and not us? It’s not fair. Why would You allow us to have this home only to take it away? Surely, You wouldn’t want us to lose our home.” It’s taken me awhile but I believe when I had those thoughts I was thinking of the “American Jesus.” You know, the one we expect to please us and fulfill our desires.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
The God of the Bible does not exist to please me or give me stuff. He can and he certainly does, but that’s not why He’s here. It’s easy to praise God and feel His blessings when we have everything we want. Am I only willing to praise God for His goodness when I have stuff or am I willing to praise Him when life…well, sucks? (sorry, Mom)
I had a shift in perspective when I thought about a family in our church. The husband was dying of cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children. Surely, we would say he had every right to be upset and grumble but every time I saw him, he had a smile on his face. I thought about his wife. I didn’t ask her but I’m pretty sure she would have rather been worrying about losing her home than losing her husband. Suddenly my attitude changed and my prayers went more like “God, we don’t have an income, but I have my husband. I have four; healthy children (which wasn’t always the case) and tonight I’ll be sleeping in a warm bed. I may have an old car but it’s gets us where we need to go.” Sadly, I think it took two years for me to get that. Not just know it…because I think we all kind of know it and believe it for other people…but really believe it for myself and still believe it even when our circumstances changed and we became better off financially.
Back to Swag. It was such a blessing not to worry about car payments during that time of unemployment. Good ol’ Swag Wag was ours and we didn’t have to worry about going into debt to keep it or risk losing it. We didn’t lose our home either. We did lose our savings. Again, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I thought maybe 2017 would be the year we could get rid of Swag but my husband sweetly told me we’re going to drive it “to the ground.” Ok, then. Ha!
She’s not pretty and I probably don’t look very hip driving it but she works. Some people don’t have a car at all. Some people are swimming in debt trying to look hip. She’s a good reminder every time I look at it of what matters and all I need to really be thankful for.
From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me, O God. – Audrey Assad, I Shall Not Want