It was early, almost unbearably early, but when it is routine somehow the unbearable is just normal.
So in the early, dark morning as I made my usual route to work, the ding sounded in my car signaling some problem. My car has lots of pictures programmed to communicate what it’s issue is. This one was pretty clear: a thermometer floating in some liquid.
Never good. Especially in a car you’re about to sell.
I loathe dealing with car issues. All of a sudden fear and gray hairs sprout up like an epidemic throughout my being. It’s rooted in having to make decisions without having expert knowledge, or ever amateur knowledge about what the problem is. I have to rely on someone else and hope they are not taking me to the cleaners. There are always tears involved. I praise God for the mechanic I have found in Houston who reminds me a lot of my own Dad and gives advice to me like I am his own daughter.
After some rounds at my trusty car mechanic, I ended at the dealership getting a recalled part and unexpectedly the thermostat replaced.
I paid the hefty bill. Problem fixed with a swipe. I drove away happy to not stress anymore wondering if fire was about to erupt from my hood at any moment.
As much as my natural inclination should have been to dwell on feeling sick at spending so much money, [be assured there was temporary stress, albeit no tears this time], I left feeling thankful that there are problems that can be fixed as simply as car repairs. I took my car in, got a loaner, got a phone call, got a bill, got my car back good as new.
Instead I thought about all the things in my life that I wish could be repaired with the swipe of a card. I thought about all the things in this world that I wish could be repaired as easily. I was suddenly very thankful for an easy problem. I was suddenly thankful for a problem with an easy, black and white answer. It gives my brain a momentary break from battling the much larger gray areas of this life that are not quick, easy fixes. That might be the most frustrating thing about trying to solve the world’s problems is that so many of them just take so much time. A broken heart that began with such a good dream, faded into a nightmare, and then is left navigating each day in a fog trying to wake up while the rest of the world around you seems to just be going along as normal. A broken friendship, a loss of a parent, friend, or child, the loss of the future that would never be. Loss is just so overwhelming.
Then there are the problems that plague this earth on such a grand scale it feels like too much. Where to even start. Bill Gates is currently featuring what he calls “Mosquito Week” on his blog. Did you know that mosquitoes kill more humans that any other animal on earth, even more than humans kill each other, by almost twice as much. For those it doesn’t kill it is so debilitating it limits any potential a person has to have a full life. Suddenly I’m laying awake thinking about how I need to donate some mosquito nets, money for malaria pills, cases of OFF, something…
Overwhelming. Such need of repair.
I recently finished Anne Lamott’s “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair”. Such a good read, good for the soul. In it she says,
This is all that restoration requires most of the time, that one person not give up.
Not giving up is hard, but it makes looking at this mess of a world less hopeless. We just have to all keep calling each other out of the dark. Keep moving on. As I recently saw on a sign, we all just keep walking each other home. So in broad strokes, I will keep taking that view of things. I take comfort in the struggle:
God often seems unconcerned with helping us maintain the same, simple lives where everything fits and works…You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really [we] don’t know the difference. – Jennie Allen
While I wish there weren’t problems to begin with, the truth is there are, and it feels like there are a lot more L’s than W’s at the moment. So if this week the immediate problem was a problem with my car, I’ll take that kind of repair.