They say that parting is such sweet sorrow. I’m not completely sure when the sweet part comes. Most of my experience with parting has been far from sweet. It’s been more sorrow than sweet and I’m wondering if the sweet part ever comes.
Well, I guess I have experienced some sweetness in parting. Of course, I’m taking the quote out of context, parting company for a time is very different than saying goodbye for longer than a day, a week, or even a month.
Months ago, my wife and I got rid of our first family car, a Toyota Camry. We bought it just months before our first child was born. We had it for about 7 years and we probably would have kept it longer, but I inherited a car after my parents both passed away.
Not too long after that, my wife was talking to her brother about the fact that he and his wife were down to just one car. They had their third child and had bought a minivan, just like we had. My brother-in-law’s car had died and they were trying to survive on just one car. My wife suggested that we give my Honda Civic to her brother.
At first, I was astounded at this prospect. My wife thought I was foolish, I could tell from her body language, but she’s also known me long enough to know when to push and when to leave well enough alone. This was one of those times when she needed to leave it alone and I was glad that she understood that.
We had a fairly new Toyota Camry that was sitting in our garage while I continued to run the Civic into the ground. There was no logic to it other than the fact that the Camry represented something else to me. As I stopped to try to come to grips with my strong emotion over the cars, I realized that the Camry, inherited from my parents, really represented my parents. I realized that I was hanging a lot of emotion onto everything that I had left that had belonged to them, including things like cars.
Now, the Civic and I had been through a lot together. Well, our family and the Civic had been through a lot together. My wife bought it just before we got married. She drove back and forth to Nyack, New York to seminary while we were in Connecticut. She got halfway through her degree there and then picked up in Charlotte, North Carolina while we were in Asheville to finish it out. When we moved to Richmond, I took the car back and forth to D.C. to work on my seminary degree. Over the course of the nearly 13 years with the car, we put on about 170k miles.
But it was time, and I had to shake myself away from whatever emotion it was that I had attached to these cars. I also needed to realize that my parents weren’t attached to a car, nor was I, nor was my family. I had to realize that I had been given an awful lot, been blessed with a whole lot, and I needed to be as willing to give away as I was willing to take. We didn’t NEED the Civic, I just WANTED it. My brother-in-law needed it. I needed to put my selfishness aside.
I have the sneaking suspicion that my wife was praying for me during this time. There is really no other explanation to my change of heart. I was working on dealing with it myself, but I’ve seen some changes in myself lately that can’t be attributed to simple will power or inner strength. I can only come to the conclusion that God is really doing some work in me and I’m changing.
I finally reintroduced the concept to my wife and she smiled with that knowing smile, the one that kind of said, “I knew you’d come around….eventually.” What can I say? I married up and found a woman who is far more superior than what I deserve. I finally got over myself and realized what I really NEEDED to do.
I just don’t like to part with things, no matter what they are. It’s more than a foolish habit, it’s something deep down inside of me, something that needs to change, especially when the “something” is an inanimate object that can easily be replaced.
When you lose things that are important to you, like people, you begin to realize what’s disposable and what’s not. You begin to see the value of things beyond your own selfish desires. My perspective has changed dramatically over the last few years, and while I wouldn’t have chosen to have endured some of what I have endured, I can see the good that has come out of them.
It might not make much sense to you, after all, we’re talking about cars here, right? Well, kind of. We’re talking about the value of things and people. I’m still learning the lessons myself. I’m still learning what needs to be treated as most important and what can be let go of. I’ve still got an awfully long way to go, but I’m getting there, a few cars at a time…..