I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. All the signs were there. The slow acceleration. The broken heater. The sliding that doors wouldn’t open.
In its heyday our minivan was the creme de la creme of minivans and had all the bells and whistles to prove it. But that was 12 years ago. Now every time I rounded a corner I feared a hubcap would fly off.
When my kids started needing to use the front passenger seat to pile into the van, I realized decisions needed to be made. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a big deal to have kids use the front door and climb into the back – but I live on a hobby farm. And I about died when I discovered CHICKEN POOP on my front seat from someone’s shoe.
The hubby got a call, This isn’t working.
We added up the cost of having our doors fixed along with the other routine maintenance that was due. It exceeded the value of the van. But I still wasn’t sure about buying a new one. Chicken poop notwithstanding, I had a goal to drive the Swagger Wagon to 200,000 miles and I still had 15,000 to go.
Maybe I could just keep Clorox wipes in the console?
On the way to a dealership I prayed to God for wisdom and discernment as to whether we should purchase a newer vehicle. I am not even kidding … my seat back broke during the prayer. It was time.
Shopping for vehicles is about as fun as going to the dentist. But that didn’t stop my husband from dragging me all over the Twin Cities to look at the exact same Toyota Sienna on fifty different lots.
Ok maybe I was complicit in the need to shop around.
I assured Dave, Oh honey, color doesn’t matter to me. I then proceeded to turn my nose up at every color we looked at … baby blue, black, a weird shade of green, the same maroon as our current van and gold. None of those colors were working for me. I’m just being honest here. I plan to drive this van for ten years so I allowed myself this small indulgence.
The verdict? We went with gray. And I love my new van. The doors work. The van speeds up when I step on the gas. It slows down when I hit the brakes. Nothing rattles on the console. This is a whole new world for me.
It turns out, a lot of new features have been added in the past twelve years. Everything is designed to work seamlessly and make my life easier. My absolute favorite is that you just touch the handle and the door unlocks. It’s magic. No matter how full your hands are you don’t have to fumble around to find a key. Just touch the handle and shazam – it unlocks!
I will love the inventor of keyless entry until the day I die.
Speaking of not needing the key, you just push a button and the car starts. I can also voice dial my friends as I drive. I can listen to music from my iPhone. My seats get toasty warm even when its -10 outside. And there’s a GPS right on my dash. Who comes up with this stuff? I’m like a kid with a new toy.
I plan to drive this thing for at least ten years. But I confess … I’m already excited about whatever fun ideas inventors dream up for my next van.
Designers, retailers, and innovators are climbing all over themselves to offer us technology. We can talk to people through a watch on our wrist. We can video chat with our loved ones in Ecuador. We can fly all over the world and see things generations before us never dreamt of seeing in their lifetimes. It’s wonderful. We have all become the Jetsons.
But the truth is … none of these new fangled conveniences can erase the fact that life is still really really hard. No amount of technology erases sorrow, disappointment and struggles.
And as much as technology is designed to improve our quality of life, it’s also making it easier and easier to isolate ourselves. Which is sad because no bells and whistles will ever be a substitute for authentic, get-in-each-other’s face community.
And community is often the least convenient aspect of our lives.
The other night I was completely downtrodden after a hard day. I had fielded a lot of heavy emotional burdens and was worried about several loved ones. What I really wanted to do was sit home and stare at my iPhone. But I was in charge of a women’s dinner and thought it would be bad form to bail on the event. So I dragged my sorry bones to church and collapsed among friends.
Just the simple act of being in fellowship was healing. My friends were an incredible encouragement to me and they didn’t even know it. Through shared laughter and meaningful, unhurried conversation my spirits were lifted.
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art … It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~ C.S. Lewis
It’s almost too easy to just say forget it and bow out when we don’t feel like being around people. But God wants us to spend time together. Especially when life is hard.
So me? I plan to use this van to cart myself to friend’s houses more often. I hope and pray it’s a tool I can use to be a blessing and be present for people.
And the good news is, I won’t leave a hubcap behind.
How do you make community part of your life? Who do you spend time with?