In West Virginia, it’s possible to total your car not only by hitting a deer, but by stopping for a deer and having someone else hit it into you…
So after hitching a ride with the tow truck, I saw through the window of the body shop, a small Volkswagen for sale in my mechanic’s lot—literally across the street. Surely, this was a sign. It was the same year and model as my own now-deceased Rabbit.
There were two minor differences. It was white, so I named her Alice. (White Rabbit, c’mon, that’s funny.) And it was a manual transmission. I could learn to drive standard on my Christmas break from school, save us from having to car shop before the holiday, and be a cool person who knew how to do things like drive stick shift and buy cars.
I wish this story of fasting was about an inspirational journey I chose to get closer to the Father. Instead, it’s about how I fasted from the busyness of my life because I couldn’t drive where I wanted to go.
As it turned out, I had a spectacularly difficult time learning how to drive a car with a manual transmission. Friends would assure me I’d get the hang of it, then gush that I’d save money on gas. Uhm, I did, because I didn’t go anywhere!
While this was a trying and difficult season, it also came with three incredible benefits from the Father:
I like to know how to do things. I like to feel self-reliant, to help people. Losing the control I thought I had was humbling, to say the least. Though in the early months, I relied too heavily on my husband, as time went on I had a revelation. Since he works a rotating shift, I’ve always tried to knock out the daily errands to spare his days off. But I was taking on too much, and it wasn’t good for either of us. Turns out, he likes to feel self-reliant and to help people, too. Since he did nearly all of the grocery shopping for six months, I found out he was a fantastic shopper. He enjoyed it, too!
Getting my driver’s license was a pivotal passage into adulthood. To again feel like my heart was going to explode when I got into the car was…discouraging.
But it reminded me who I am. My value to the Father isn’t based on my skills. He doesn’t love me less when I fail. Repeated stalls at traffic lights might earn me rude gestures and condemnation from other drivers, but it didn’t change who I was. It did, however, cause me to extend more grace to other drivers—especially the elderly. I hope when they get in the car to run errands, their hearts don’t clench with fear the way mine did!
My value to the Father isn’t based on my skills. He doesn’t love me less when I fail.
When I wasn’t spending my time zipping back and forth to town, I settled down and focused my attention on a big project at home—my blog. I’d had the domain name for two years, but was afraid to publish the first post! Spending all that time at home gave me plenty of time to think about my goals and decide what I really wanted.
I also finished and will soon publish my first book. Looking back, without major changes to my habits, I’m not sure I would’ve gotten it done. In fact, I may have rolled it into 2019’s New Year’s resolutions. It’s been on my bucket list for years. Without a quiet 2017, would I have been able to achieve my big goal?
Now, I’m still trying to get my shifts silky-smooth, but I’m able to go wherever I need. Instead of running to the grocery, bank, or post office, you’ll probably find me at home, typing away in my office. I bundle some errands into a single trip and skip others.
We’re ready to do some car shopping this year, and I’m sure our second car will be an automatic. (My husband is a saint, but no one has that much patience!) We’re keeping Alice. She’s precious, the obstacle that helped teach me a new skill and how to be more focused and determined. One of my greatest challenges became the most rewarding victory. By giving up the unnecessary, I could see what genuinely mattered most.
Have you ever given up a habit, and found treasure in the space that was left?