In those years I attributed a lot of embarrassment to being without a vehicle. I hated asking for rides and when I did ask I felt bad about it. In my mind, not being able to afford a car meant that I was loser, someone who mooched off her friends & loved ones. When I finally did get access to a vehicle, it was a lemon & started a string of pretty terrible used vehicles. This became sort of a joke in my group of friend & with my brother (who I shared some of these vehicles with). My maiden name was Walker & it became a sort of prophecy for how I would spend my life; walking from A to B. After a year of marriage & numerous automobile issues, Rick & I traded in two worn-out vehicles for our current gently used gem-of-a-car. The lemon-line ended & the spell was broken.
As we sat in our garage, all of these feelings came back to me & I immediately became wracked with fear. I knew that we'd have to call someone to give us a ride to church and I didn't want to have to do it. I hate asking for help anyway, but this was personal. After talking with Rick later in the day, he confessed that he didn't want to ask for help either. We ultimately called my brother and he graciously gave us a ride. Then, our lovely friends kindly gave us a ride home after the service.
Now, here's the deal. There is a lot of emotional baggage attached to me finally being a well-running car owner. There is also a lot of pride attached to it. Not pride in the fact that we own a beautiful, fancy automobile. But pride in the fact that I no longer have to ask my friends & family for help. If I'm honest, I get a lot of my identity from not needing assistance in day to day life. I'm a responsible, capable adult that can tend to my own business. But the problem with that is that I start to think that it is my capabilities that are allowing me to have a well-running vehicle. I take it in for the regularly-scheduled maintenance so it should be running well, right? However, when the car breaks down, I am immediately crushed because it is a personal attack on my identity as a responsible car owner. I once again become Kimberly Walker, with the emphasis on "walker".
When we first purchased our new car, lovingly named Hermione, I was so thankful to have a new car. I was so grateful to have a vehicle that didn't need to have extensive work every month. I was so grateful to have a vehicle that didn't leave a huge oil spot on the driveway. All the doors locked & the windows worked. Probably for the first month of owning the car I was thankful every day. Having unreliable vehicles was still so fresh in my mind & I knew that I was lucky. But as the months wore on, I have become less & less thankful. The new wears off & though I would probably never admit it if asked, I feel entitled to having my car.
The tricky thing about gratitude is that it's extremely hard to hold on to. How many of us will still be thanking our friends & loved ones for our Christmas presents in March? How many of us make sure to say our thanks for the big things but forget little things like running, clean water?
I don't have any answers here. All I know is that later that Sunday night, when our car gloriously roared back to life, I said a quite thank you for a silly, little car named Hermione. Because none of this is guaranteed or here because of anything I'm doing right. I'm not entitled to a car because I'm responsible. I don't deserve a nice house because I'm a relatively good person. The sooner I stop attributing the good things in my life to things that I'm doing right the sooner I'll be closer to being truly grateful for all that I have, even when it feels like I don't have that much.
What are you thankful today?