A couple weeks ago, my husband and I took a much anticipated trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. As we flew above the clouds toward the East Coast, I commented how wonderful and rare and exciting it was just to be on a plane alone together (read: without our precious offspring). In my book, this trip was already spectacular, and we hadn’t even landed at our destination!
After we did arrive at our journey’s end and grabbed our luggage, we walked the short distance to the rental car company where David had made our reservation, and we picked up the keys to our car. After walking outside the building to where the cars sat in tidy rows, David walked up to one, threw a look over his shoulder my way and said, “This is it right here!”
I immediately halted and stared at him.
For standing before me was a little sporty convertible.
I stammered out, “What in the world?! Are you sure this is our car?”
He nodded, I blinked. I know full well how my husband takes pleasure in surprising me, but this just seemed too much.
You see, dearies, I drive a twelve-year-old minivan. A sensible minivan with numerous quirks and dings that testify to every inch of traveling our family has done in that twelve year time. What’s more, I drive the baby car of the family as David’s truck is eighteen years old. So as I stared at this un-sensible, ultra extravagant car, I just couldn’t fathom that it belonged to us for the next several days.
My first, second, and third thought remained the same: What business do David and I have in this sporty thing?
With that trip now in our rear view mirror, I roll my eyes at myself. After all, we’re talking about driving a convertible for five days, not blowing our budget to buy one we can’t use or afford.
But I annoyed myself that as our anniversary celebration barely opened its eyes, I allowed shame to take quite a bit of room in my view.
Shame works that way, doesn’t it? Give it an inch, it’ll take ten miles. It kicks in the front door of your heart and stares you down with squinty eyes and pointing fingers. Sometimes, like with this convertible, it tries to squash the joy found in a genuine blessing. Other times it’s more sinister and ugly, shouting at how you’ll never get past that terrible thing or always be a victim of your circumstances. In big and small ways, it hisses questions like:
What business do you have receiving this?
Who do you think you are?
Why can’t you get your act together — and keep it together?
And if you’re me in the Hertz parking lot, it says get your tail back in a minivan where you belong, foolish girl.
Shame will do anything to keep you from living in the light. It works to make you feel small in a bad way, suggesting you are too puny to pull this off.
But shame has a twin sister who also works to make you feel bad in a big way, and she says things like how dare you enjoy what you don’t deserve! What’s more, shame stops nothing short of coercing you into a strong apology for having the audacity to exist in the first place.
With help from my husband who is a sensible perspective-keeper, I thankfully snapped to attention and stopped allowing shame to boss me. I was able to name it for what it was: something from the enemy rather than from God. The enemy tries to distract us from the big picture, and God simply invites redirection back to it.
And that big picture is this: Jesus came so you may have life to the full — for His glory and your benefit.
I am thankful for and content with our wonky family minivan, the same car that long ago brought my baby girl home from the hospital and is now a functional tool for helping my sons learn to drive. And I will not let shame shove me toward any place other than gratitude for taking a week long spin in a convertible.
I will not hide in the back seat of my own life. And for that glorious anniversary, not hiding in the back seat of life looked like sitting in the front seat of a convertible, smiling wild and free with wind-whipped hair and sun-warmed skin.
And simply but boldly telling God thank you for every moment.