My car broke at the intersection of University & Belleview yesterday. Ugh.
My mind went through three distinct phases as a I smelt burning fumes and the horrid noise of the engine turning over, over, and over again:
- Shame. Driving through the ritzy neighborhoods of Cherry Creek with a 20-year old car that suddenly fails to work felt…well, to be honest, it felt odd. I don’t usually feel embarrassed about these kinds of things, but I’m also human and no more immune to shame than anyone else.
- Panic. Who would I call? Of course, my Iphone batter read “5%” and so I knew I was in a time crunch. What would I do? Logic seems to go out the window in times of uncertainty and so as I began to ask all of these questions, I took a moment to just sit and take a deep breathe. It would be okay.
- Laughter. As I did so, I couldn’t help but think the whole situation as rather hilarious. I was dressed in effervescent colors as I had just finished a spin class downtown. I had been listening to Taylor Swift along the road, jamming out like nobody’s business. And in reality, my car (aptly named “Rhonda the Honda”) has over 220,000 miles on it. I had expected this moment. Just not now. We never are ready for these moments. I laughed and then quickly said a quick prayer for safety and protection in getting home.
My prayers were answered. A lovely lady and her daughter pulled over. They helped me call the police and get a tow truck to move the car. Their kindness resonated with me; when I thanked them, they simply said,
“we never want to be those people that just drive by. People need help sometimes.”
My car was moved to a nearby mechanic. Closed for the weekend, I had no choice but to gather my belongings and walk the 1.5 mile distance to my home. That too was a strange experience. I grabbed my bag of workout clothes, my bag of rollerblades, my purse, and my backpack of hiking gear to keep these things at home safely. I received strange looks as I walked along the pedestrian-friendly sidewalk. Yeah, yeah, I thought. It’s a long story.
In these moments of forced humility, it becomes more possible to think freely and with a deeper movement of gratitude. I happened to be thinking about what had happened in my life the past week – before my car had broken down.
I thought about my sweet, new niece born on Thursday (AnaLynah Genevera June Newell). I thought about peace-filled road trips with Michelle (to Arkansas and Tennessee) as we navigated the very strange system of rental car bureaucracy. I smiled when I remembered all of the photographs I took with my friends as we reconvened at Hendrix for our 5-year reunion. You see, it had actually been a very, very good week. I reminded myself that it was going to be okay. It always, always is – even when we don’t see it.
In this way, I believe in God as the ultimate restorer. It’s in the lives of His people that I see restoration at work all the time. Sometimes it’s slow; other times it comes swiftly. But, more and more I believe these are the victories in our stories. We can’t explain why people continue to go hungry; why people die suddenly; or why we are born in a particular time or place. But, when you begin to talk to people, you realize that God IS at work. He is restoring pieces and small fabrics of people’s lives.
In my brother, I see restoration in his purpose. He is a father. He has a baby girl. New life. How profound, for someone who many times has come so close to death.
In my father, I see restoration in fatherhood.His father left him while he was a young teen, and I can certainly say that not once have I ever doubted that my dad would help me or support me or cheer me on when I needed it.
In my mother, I see restoration in marriage. Perhaps we undergo great pains of conflict or betrayal or sadness in our life – but it doesn’t mean that’s the end. My mom found another chance for marriage, and I believe that was a restorative work of God.
On a larger level, I see restoration in relationships, hope, solutions to big problems, and truth. In times of world violence, disasters, political rhetoric of hate, racial divides, and more, you continue to find people who actively work for peace, for love, and yes, for restoration. These are people, I think, who just get it. They realize that in serving a God who loves us and is bringing back the value of things as they should be, we can play a part in that. This is kingdom work. That’s what it’s all about, really. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:38-39
As for me, I think my restorative experience is largely in line with acceptance. God makes all of His people unique, beautiful, and wonderful individuals.
The restoration process happens when we acknowledge the ways He has crafted our hearts, lives, and souls, and embrace this. It’s a process – but it’s happening.