On buying a car (or not)…

We made an effort to buy a car today. We researched on the internet during the week and today we went to sit in and test drive the vehicles we were interested in. We had several reasons for doing this – the 156,000 miles on the Aztek for one, the earned GM bucks on our credit card that are due to expire next Wednesday for another. It was a very reasonable thing to do and could have been a way to save money on an inevitable purchase.  But we didn’t do it. We were actually to the point of emptying out the Aztek and vacuuming it for the trade when we decided not to complete the process.

I learned a significant thing. There have been times when we’ve made purchases like this without praying about them, trusting that God gives us enough common sense to figure it out, but this time we prayed together. I guess we feel the financial uncertainty of the times more, our ability to earn has been threatened in various ways and we are earning for others besides ourselves and didn’t want to put those commitments in jeopardy. Neither of us enjoys car shopping. There are so many options and decisions to be made and sometimes you don’t even know whether they are important decisions or not! So we did pray that we would know what we should decide about all these options.

We decided that better mileage was one goal, and two cars fit that bill pretty well. We liked the feel of one of them better than another, it drove well, we found it in a color we could live with and the price was manageable. But I could feel a small storm starting – even though I agreed with all these assessments. And what I learned was, that when you pray about something, you pay more attention to the inner storms that you might otherwise dismiss.  That can be a good thing and it could be spiritual direction.

You would think I would be excited about a new car. I would think I’d be excited about a new car, especially one with Bluetooth connectivity, OnStar, remote start, and a computer that tells you when something is wrong and what the something is and even sends you an e-mail about it. But I wasn’t excited – not like I was when we got the Aztek. After we decided not to buy I felt so relieved and content with the decision.  And Dennis was too, I think.  He didn’t agonize over it at all.

So let me tell you all the things I love about my ten year old car that outweigh the irritations of having no working gas gauge or windshield washer, the broken key fobs and dimming dash lights. I love that it is bright yellow instead of one of the other four colors that all the other cars in the world are. That color makes me happy, and visible. I love the cooler between the seats that keeps things cool that would otherwise melt in the Florida heat. I love that I can put my cereal bowl on top of the cooler for easy access at stop lights. I love that all I have to do to get in it is open the door, back up to the seat and slide in (no lowering myself into the cockpit). I love that it’s taken me hiking in the mountains, to the northwoods,  to the horse farm, carrying all manner of unwieldy objects with ease, with never a bad breakdown.  Ten years of living and it’s still an exciting vehicle.  I’m always glad to get in and drive. And one morning this week I started the engine to go to work and the first thing out of the radio was “Shirley”! Well, actually it was “surely” and it was part of a sentence but it was still kind of heartwarming and I took it personally. 

We may still buy another car someday, but it wasn’t right today and I am happy.

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