I don’t take every situation in my life as a moment to stop and reflect. But most of the time, I should.
I spent about 20 minutes in the parking lot outside the newspaper office a couple of weeks ago, trying to put my car in gear.
It was a little problem that had progressed from early November, when I attempted to move the shift knob from park to reverse. The little button that released the shift stick wouldn’t budge on the first few attempts. Eventually, it would move and I’d go on my way.
I told my husband about it. I don’t think he believed me until he attempted to back out of the driveway one morning as we made a trip to Indianapolis. It took several tries to move the shift knob from park to reverse.
But once we were in gear, we went on our way.
I’m a mechanic’s daughter, and while I don’t know a lot about cars, I know enough to recognize that an automatic transmission stick ought to slide into gear easily, or it needs to be checked out.
But I’m also one of those people who find it hard to give up the car long enough for the dealership to take a look at it.
And so I managed for a couple more weeks. Then I found myself in the car, trying multiple times, wishing I had a hammer (banging on things helps everything, right?). Just as I was about ready to phone my husband to come and get me, the thing shifted into gear.
I called him anyway, to tell him how aggravated I was, of course.
A couple of days passed and it was time to take our Newfoundland pup Gideon to the vet for his monthly grooming. I loaded him up in the back seat and had no problem at all in shifting into reverse and hauling him to the vet, then returning home.
In a couple of hours, I picked Gideon up and found myself in the same predicament, car stuck in park, with a hot dog steaming up the windows, in the veterinary clinic parking lot.
Just as I was calling my husband to come and get us, the car shifted into reverse.
The next day I hopped in the car to drive down to see my dad, and the car wouldn’t budge out of park. I called my husband, who came out and rocked the car, thinking that would help. We called the car dealership and they couldn’t get us in the shop for another week.
Fed up, I abandoned my car and claimed my husband’s car to make the trip down to see Dad.
My husband is persistent, and figured out that if we set the parking brake, we could get the car out of park and into gear.
That process lasted three days. Of course, on a Tuesday morning as I was leaving to cover a government meeting, the car wouldn’t budge.
So I abandoned the car again, but my son was using his car for work and my husband was leaving to join his VFW comrades to perform military rites at a funeral.
I growled around and fussed. Not that it made a difference.
When my husband returned from the funeral, I claimed rights to his car again, and he read the owner manual for my car, figuring out a work-around that involved a screwdriver poking into the shift lock release button.
That’s getting us by until the car goes into the shop. I’m not having any part of that situation. I took over his car and he’s dealing with the screwdriver business.
But I did plenty of muttering about the car being an oversized paperweight, telling my husband he’d better get a wrecker service with a rollback on standby, and grousing around about the inconveniences of the whole situation.
I’ll be honest. I was being a brat.
And that’s how I know that God has sometimes gentle, sometimes more direct, and sometimes humorous ways of speaking into my life.
While I was stuck in park, getting down and rolling in the weeds of discontent about not being able to move, God did not leave me to my own devices. The car eventually did move into gear.
While I was stuck in park, pitching a fit, with a drooling dog steaming up the windows, God did not leave me to my own devices. The car eventually did move into gear.
While I was stuck in park, growling about being late to a meeting, and no one there to help, God sent me back in the house to settle down, and provided a means for me to find out what happened at the meeting I missed.
When I was stuck in park, throwing fits about my giant paperweight of a vehicle, God sent my husband out to the glove box to pick out the owner manual and find a work-around.
My lessons: In my spiritual life, when things begin to feel “stuck,” it’s not good to ignore them. I need to take the time to get into communion with God and have a spirit diagnostics appointment before it turns into a bigger problem. And, even if I am stuck in a situation that I’m not comfortable about, God never leaves me. He’s right there. He cares about the little things and makes a way for us — even if it’s screwdrivers and owner manuals — and a patient husband.