We’re a Toyota family. We have a blue 2006 Highlander that is ideal for transporting our family of five. Sonja typically tools around in it when taking the kids about town, and it’s the car of choice when we’re all going somewhere together. I drive a white 1994 Tercel that I love. The girls like to ride in the big girl booster seats in the back for sake of sheer novelty. It’s broken in, but still has a lot of life left in it. Sonja guesses that Ellie will be driving it when she turns sixteen, which is still nine years away.
We park both cars in the garage, the blue car on the left, and the white car on the right. When standing at the rear of the white car, looking toward the front, you can see a very dimpled profile covering a few-inch span right under the driver’s side rear window. This is precisely where the right rear door of the blue car regularly dings the white car when my kids are entering and exiting the blue car.
Does it drive me nuts? I admit it: Yes. Is it worth freaking out about? No. Is it worth repairing? Well….
Now, I don’t really drive that car very much (It’s 18 years old and has 135,000 miles on it. Not much, really.) It’s safe to say that my car sustains the most damage to it when it is in the place designed for its protection. I grant that it’s not actually doing any work when it’s parked, although it is absolutely serving a purpose. It enjoys regular and repeated injury when it ought to be safest. Also, it’s not surprising that most of the time it is parked beside the blue car. That’s where it spends most of its resting hours, and it’s where it gets dinged the most.
Who among us can’t relate to the life of my little white car? It’s led a seasoned life next to other cars, and has the pockmarked exterior to prove it. I could sand, fill, re-paint and clear coat it every time it gets dinged, but guess what? Before the paint would have had a chance to dry, it’d get dinged again! In order for it to not get dinged anymore, I’d have to park it away from other cars, and that’s something I’m not willing to do. Are my children deliberately dinging the white car? No; they feel bad when they do it, but it happens. It is a minor (albeit unpleasant) part of the life of the white car. I may “protect” the car by parking it outside of the garage, away from the bully blue car, but that doesn’t actually shelter the white car from harm; it only introduces a new set of potential problems (break-in, falling limbs, frosty windshields…).
We inevitably suffer injury – cosmetic or otherwise – at the hands of those to whom we are closest, around whom we spend the most time. It’s part of the human experience. We may not necessarily enjoy it , but we can experience it with perspective and joy. The only way for us to avoid run-of-the-mill door dings is to get away from people. And we can do that, but it doesn’t keep us from trouble; it only introduces a new set of potential problems. And it certainly minimizes our effectiveness.
My white car serves a purpose, and does so quite contentedly and well. And when it finally stops running, it will have provided years of long, faithful, and effective service without complaint. For my part, I can only hope that the same can be said of me. I’ll continue to get dinged along the way, but I don’t want to park outside to guard against potential injury when it’s God’s design for me to be in the garage.