I used to drive a 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier convertible.
It never was supposed to be “my” car. Kristy wanted it. Badly. We were looking for a car for her to drive and could not afford anything new. Our credit at the time was on the bad side of horrendous, so we could not be terribly picky. Her eyes lit up when she saw the Cavalier; it was like Ralphie Parker looking at an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock in A Christmas Story. She just had to have it.
So, we bought the stinkin’ thing.
At first I rarely drove it. I had my vehicle and Kristy had the Cavalier. Technically, the Cavalier was better than the car that I drove. I’ll admit that much. But I didn’t like it. The main problem was a size issue. I am big–6’7” and around 300 lbs. The Cavalier was a tiny, two-door car that could fit into my pants pocket. Basically, I had to fold myself up and put it on in order to drive it.
We purchased this car before we had many children. When we started accumulating our brood, we knew that a bigger vehicle was needed. We became the not-so-proud owners of a Dodge Grand Caravan. Kristy took possession of the van. Sadly, I got the Cavalier.
I suppose I could have kept the Corsica that I had been driving, but it had seen better days. It had a ton of miles on it and the driver’s seat had become a rocking chair. Seriously. It wasn’t fixable, so I ended up putting cinder blocks behind the seat to hold it in place. My neck became a little redder because of this.
Of the two, the Cavalier was in better shape. So I suppressed my disdain and began driving the stinkin’ thing.
At the time we lived in Oakdale, TN. If you are a normal person, you have no idea where Oakdale is located. It is in Morgan County, about 50 miles east of Knoxville and 45 miles north-east of Maryville. At the time, I worked at the corporate office of Clayton Homes located in Maryville. This meant that I had a one-hour drive to work each morning and a one-hour drive home each evening, Monday-Friday. That’s 10 hours per week in the car, by myself. Each day I drove in 5 counties.
At the end of every work day, as I got home and crawled out of the Cavalier, I dreaded getting back in it the next morning. But it got worse. A few months after becoming the main driver of the Cavalier, the radio was stolen out of it. We didn’t have the money to replace it. So instead of just driving 10 hours per week by myself in a car that was much too small for me, I began driving 10 hours per week by myself in a car that was much too small for me….in silence.
At first, I spent a lot of time on the phone while driving in the car. But that soon became a nuisance. So most of the time I drove in silence, wondering how in the world I was staying awake. You might not think it was all that bad; you are wrong. Go ahead and try it for a few weeks. You’ll see. It was bad. Real bad.
Until I started talking. Don’t worry; I didn’t go crazy or anything. I didn’t talk to myself. I began talking to God.
Now, I had prayed off and on for a good portion of my life. Of course, I prayed more earnestly as I became more committed to the important disciplines of the Faith. But what I was doing in the silence of the Cavalier was different.
Instead of my prayers being formulaic, they became personal. Instead of it being something that I should do, praying became something I wanted to do. Instead of thinking of it as a duty, it became a time to express my love for God and a time to feel Him loving me back.
I shared my burdens with Him without thinking about how I sounded. I shared my joys with Him in whatever manner I felt appropriate; by singing, shouting, crying, or smiling. I talked as one who has been showered with love to the One who loves perfectly.
And I listened.
I listened as He encouraged me. I listened as He chastised me. I listened as He told me things about myself that I had not previously known. My relationship with Him, which had far too often been sporadic at best, blossomed. My faith in Him increased. My worship of Him exploded.
About a year later, the Cavalier started giving me problems and the roof began leaking. I sold it to a neighbor after buying a truck. Sometimes I think about that car and am amazed that I ever fit into it. Sometimes I think about all the times I was made fun of by my friends for driving a vehicle that probably weighed less than I do.
But mostly when I think about that time of my life, I am glad. It’s a wonderful thing to learn such a valuable lesson; even if the lesson was learned while I was folded up inside of a Cavalier.
(Have you ever learned a powerful lesson about prayer? Share it–or anything else you would like to share!)