I bought a new car last week.
Well, new to me, anyway. This was a major milestone in my life, because it’s the first time I’ve ever gone by myself to buy a car. I wasn’t sure what to look for, and since I know very little about cars and motors and how they get from point A to point B, I was a little nervous.
I started with the most important decision first: the color. I wanted a red car. Now, I’ve never really been a red kind of person. Blue is my favorite color. But red is a strong color, and since I seem to be going through some sort of mid-life thing, I decided now would be a good time to reinvent myself.
A red convertible. Yep, that’s what I needed. Especially since I’m growing my hair out . . . I could just see myself cruising down the highway in my cool shades, long hair a’flappin’, leaving all those SUV’s and sedans in my dust. I closed my eyes, pictured it in my mind, and smiled and smiled. Self re-invented: stronger, bolder, more capable, more confident. And in my mental picture, I was lookin’ good.
I kept smiling until another car invaded the dream . . . a police car with red and blue flashing lights. Then I opened my eyes and decided to re-think the whole convertible thing. Besides, I’ve ridden in convertibles enough to know my hair would never arrive at my destination intact.
No . . . I decided a convertible wasn’t for me, after all. But red, yes. Definitely red. And sporty and sleek. Maybe a Corvette . . .
Next came the research phase of my car-buying experience. I asked friends what kinds of cars they drove, and what their experiences were. I read consumer reports. I read reviews. I called my long-time friend, Mike the mechanic, and asked him what to look for in a car. I’m glad I did, because he gave me a list of things to check for when buying a used car—things I’d have never thought to check without that list. Oil. Coolant. Rubber hoses. Tiny dents. Tire tread.
Before that, all I was really looking for was color and a stereo system that worked. Yeah . . .
Finally, it was time for me to go car-shopping. At an actual dealer. I called the dealer several days before I showed up and told him what I was looking for. Red. Sporty. Good fuel economy. Low mileage. I prayed and asked God to find me the perfect car, and give me everything on my list.
Wouldn’t ya know, the dealer had several cars that fit my description. But there was one more specification I’d forgotten to mention: I didn’t want to finance the car. I had some money tucked away, and with my trade-in, I wanted to pay cash. I had a certain amount I was willing to spend, and I refused to go any higher. After all, what’s the use in saving $150 a month in gas if I’m adding a $200 car payment? Might as well keep my current car and pay the fuel prices.
While he did have some old, smelly, stained-up clunkers I could afford, I wasn’t interested. None of them were red. Or Corvettes. Or even cute.
Back to the drawing board. I went home disappointed, but determined. That’s when I decided to list my car on Craig’s list, to see if I could get more for it than I could on a trade-in. And while I was on Craig’s list, I saw something that caught my eye . . .
A 2002 Toyota Prius. Forty-three thousand miles. Owned by an eighty-five year-old grandmother. Garage kept; she literally drove it to the grocery store and back for eleven years.
From the pictures, it looked like a brand new car. But it wasn’t red.
Did I mention blue is my favorite color?
I called the number listed, and the owner invited me to come look at it right then. I did.
The car was even prettier in person than in the pictures. It’s an elegant, pearly blue that just makes something in my spirit feel settled and calm. Not a single stain or mark was in the interior. New tires. New battery. Nice stereo system. And it drives even better than a Corvette. And it gets nearly forty miles to the gallon, baby.
Not only that, but I forgot to tell you I’m a bit claustrophobic, and cars with a center console extending to the dashboard make me feel closed in. This car’s console stops where the seats end, making it feel more spacious.
Even better, I was able to pay cash for the car, right then and there. And I still have my car to sell, to replace the money. If anybody is interested in a suh-weet deal on a 2004 GMC Envoy, leather interior, all the bells and whistles, my editor will be glad to take a message for you. I hope.
All this to say, I learned a lesson that day. I wanted to reinvent myself, but God had other plans. He doesn’t see a need to reinvent me; He made me exactly the way He wanted me the first time around. He just wants to help me become the best, most beautiful me I can be.
I wanted to be red, but He knew blue suited me more. He knew I wanted the bold, in-your-face confidence of a red Corvette, but He reminded me that the soft, unassuming confidence of a pearl-moon-blue Prius was a more flattering fit. The car God found me was not exactly what I prayed for, but everything I hoped for. Everything I needed, and more.
It makes me wonder what other exciting things God has in store for my future. His plans may not always fill my wish list, but that’s okay. I know His plans for me are even better than mine, and they’ll always be a perfect match for me.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has in store for those who love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.