1/7/14

It's all about perspective.

I needed a light bulb for my IKEA lamp - the kind that are only sold at IKEA, of course, because IKEA is the Apple of home furnishings.

So I detoured to Cincinnati on my way home from Wisconsin, after seven hours already on the road, a cassette tape on spiritual warfare, and lots of Amy Grant (the "Heart in Motion" album).

The moment I pushed on my brakes to take my exit, my oil light came on. Not a casual light-up like when you're running low on gas and your gas light kind of fades in and out as if saying, "So, hey, you could use some gas. But no rush. Whenevs. I like your sweater." This light blared like it suddenly realized WE WERE ALL GOING TO DIE.

I quite audibly heard my dad say, "As soon as the oil light comes on, you need to take your car to a mechanic. You could ruin your engine."

I, alone in my car, quite audibly responded, "What do I do what do I do what do I do."

I decided that if I could make it to IKEA, I could check my oil and see if my light was bluffing. (Guess what, everyone: I know how to check my oil. Guess what, everyone: That's about as much as I know.)

There just happens to be a mechanic right across the street from IKEA, did you know that?

I pulled into the IKEA parking lot (because I still needed a light bulb, regardless of the state of my car) and popped my hood. My hood has seen a lot in its days, so after climbing on top of it and stomping on it while growling "What. is. your. problem" through clenched teeth, a nice man with his wife and two kids passed by and helped me open it. "Mommy, why was that lady jumping on top of her car?" his daughter probably asked as they walked away. To which she probably responded, "Walk faster and don't make eye contact."

(I later discovered that sticking a cassette tape in the release lever inside while pulling on the hood up front does just the trick. It helps if the cassette tape is about spiritual warfare, but it's not a necessity.)

There was no oil in my car. None. And IKEA on a Saturday night is a ZOO.

As I pulled across the street to the mechanic place (with my light bulb in possession), my engine made rattling noises. I pictured it blowing up and told Jesus I was ready.

The man inside told me they didn't have time to look at my car that night. I think he saw that I was going to cry, because he told me to pull up to the bay so he could quickly check my oil. (I then learned what a "bay" is.) Inside my own head I kept pleading that my dad would magically appear and solve all my problems, because that's what dads do.

The mechanic confirmed my discovery of 0% oil, seemingly shocked. Then he walked to the back of my car, stuck a finger in the tailpipe, and pulled it out covered in black gunk. He showed it to me like I should be very concerned. I shook my head as if I couldn't believe what this meant. Really, I had no idea what this meant.

"And it's not powdery," he further proved the point I was oblivious to. "It's wet."

He probably realized I was clueless (he was very observant, apparently - or maybe my face just displays everything I'm thinking [yeah, probably that]), because he then explained that my car was burning up my oil. Depending on how much it was burning, I could've done serious damage to my engine and might need a new one. I tried not to cry. He called another mechanic over to take a look.

There are two things that can happen when you are a.) a girl and b.) clueless about cars. Mechanics can either take advantage of you ("You need a new hoojamawhatsit OR ELSE and that'll be $2,500 - cash or credit or blood?") or they can take pity on you and be overly kind and call you things like "honey" in a fatherly and non-creepy way.

I thank God that these two mechanics were the latter kind.

While one guy filled my car with oil and commented on the weather, the other refilled my windshield wiper fluid and checked my transmission fluid, and I stood there dumbly. Then they gave me directions to the nearest AutoZone and wrote down exactly what oil I needed to buy.

"Don't let them trick you into getting anything more expensive," Observant Mechanic said. He handed me a cloth. "You'll need this. It's clean. Stop in about an hour to check the level of your oil. Do you know how to check your oil?"

Yay! I know something.

"Don't rush it," Weatherman Mechanic said. "Take your time."

"Can I pay you something?" I asked.

Observant Mechanic waved a hand and crinkled his nose. "Nah. That's what we're here for."

I drove home and cried a lot. Because at first I had been terrified and frustrated and exhausted at the thought of more bad things happening to me. At first.

But then I was overwhelmed by God's grace. What if I hadn't gotten off in Cincinnati and my engine had exploded on the highway? What if I had gotten off somewhere else where there wasn't a mechanic right across the street? What if the mechanic I had gone to was grumpy and greedy and either didn't help me or charged me a lot?

"I took care of you," God said. "Look at how I took care of you."

You can choose not to see God's grace. You can choose to only see the dark and murky places and things. You can choose to complain and pity.

Or you can choose to see how He has watched your every step. You can choose to see how He met your needs. You can choose to see how He rescued you. You can choose to see how He was with you (Deuteronomy 2:7).

Because He has and was and is. It's just all about perspective.
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows," Jesus said. "But I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me, and take heart, because I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 (paraphrased and emphasis added)