Some say that I am too complex for my own good.
I say, I am who I am.
When I Grow Up. When I was in junior high school, there was this Sunday school teacher in his 20s who taught one of our classes. We all thought he was so cool. He always wore nice clothes, a pair of fashionable sunglasses and most of all, he drove a really good-looking BMW coupe. Aaaahhhh… BMW. One time he gave a couple of us a ride and it was so smooth. I remember thinking, When I grow up, I’m gonna drive a BMW. Of course, I would soon find out that not just anyone can get a BMW.
Luxury. What does this word — luxury — really mean? How does one define it and can it have varying degrees of meaning?
A little bit of background: I grew up in a somewhere-between-low-and-middle class home and though we were fortunate enough to have food on the table and a roof over our heads, I have to admit, times were pretty tough. Our idea of luxury was that one time during the year when it was time for back-to-school shopping and we could buy one pair of jeans and one shirt for the new year or when dad decided to splurge and get a stereo with a CD player on top (!).
I’ll save my ponderings of all that resulted from that part of childhood for another post. Back to the topic at hand. And to that BMW.
My Honda Civic. I grew up, but alas, I have never driven and will never drive a BMW. Instead, I’ve been driving Hondas for the past 9 years. I’ve enjoyed driving the Civic. It’s nothing special, doesn’t have any cool features or anything, and is FAR from a BMW. But it gets the job done and I’ve rarely had any issues with it.
Yesterday, I went to a Honda dealership to trade in cars because the lease on my Civic was about to end. There wasn’t much to think about. I was going to trade it in for the same model and that would be that. I actually ended up with a nice sales guy (not the aggressive, creepy ones that I’ve sometimes dealt with in the past) and he told me that inventory was very low as a result of the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. They did not have the Civic LX in black as I had wanted. I was about to settle for a blue. But then he started talking about the EX and once he told me the backseat folds down 60/40 I was sold immediately. I was ecstatic about that feature because of the way I load my music gear into the car. It’s going to be much more efficient and space-saving. I unintentionally haggled a bit and got it for a very modest price differential. But something has been bothering me a bit.
The Dilemma. The Civic EX seems too luxurious. I’m a simple gal. I don’t need a moon-roof or high-grade tires or bluetooth capabilities. Not that I don’t appreciate them, but do I really need to be driving around town in a fancy schmancy car? And then when I start to think about it, I remember, I’m driving a Honda Civic. There ain’t nothing fancy about that. But why do I feel this way? Why do I feel like I’m not being true to myself? Am I just in the mentality that I cannot have good things? That’s how little I value myself?
I don’t think that’s it.
The flip side of this dilemma is that THIS IS HARDLY A DILEMMA. I’m stressing over getting a nicer car as opposed to a regular one? This is a ridiculous issue to even give more than 1 minute of life to. Having a car, period, is a luxury. I should just be grateful and move forward.
But should I?
As I sat down with the finance guy, he asked me if I got the same model or if I had upgraded. I told him I got an upgrade. He said, “Oh, that’s great. You don’t know what you’re missing until you have it. It’s always nice to have more. You should always have more if you can.” That’s when I really started to feel like something wasn’t quite right.
What is the heart issue underlying the feelings I have about driving a nicer car? Having nicer things? Allowing myself to have some luxury here and there? This, my friends, goes deep. It doesn’t only relate to the way I grew up, but it’s intrinsically connected to who I am as God’s created and beloved and who he has called me to be. For me, it is of utmost importance that I think intentionally about wealth and possessions because if I do not, I will be swept away by them. It won’t happen overnight. It’ll happen over months, years… decades. I won’t even notice it and then before I know it, I’ll have gotten so comfortable and put my identity in these things. It’s happened before, and it can definitely happen again. I am aware of the depths of my heart.
Maybe for the first time in awhile, I’m starting to understand something I read in the book of Matthew.
“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22
I’ve already signed the papers so I will be driving around in my new, sweet ride for awhile. But I will be vigilant in reminding myself that it is more, much more than I need and be grateful for the time I have it.