For reasons I’m simply unwilling to admit on a blog, I had to get a door replaced on our car a couple years ago. (Not the car pictured above… I’m not that cool.)
Okay, fine, I’ll be honest. One Christmas, we got home quite late from visiting extended family in Michigan. We pulled in just before midnight. My wife got the kids into bed while I unloaded the car. I got it all in and there was just one thing left to take care of before parking the car in the right spot and going to bed.
I took an empty plastic bag out to the car to collect a week’s worth of trash. After more than a few moments, the job was done and I stood there, next to the car with a full garbage bag and a dumpster that was just 40 feet away. An intelligent, non-lazy person would have walked the bag to the dumpster and then moved the car.
Firmly convinced that I was smarter than your average intelligent person, I opted to drive to the dumpster, as it was “on the way” (not remotely) to parking the car in the correct spot. I pulled up to the dumpster and put the car in park. I got out, threw out the garbage and climbed back into the car. I put the car in reverse and noticed another few pieces of garbage on the floorboard. Naturally, I got out to throw them away.
The car was still in… yes, reverse. Good, I’m glad you’re still with me. Fortunately, the dumpster caught the open door and slowed the whole process down with a terrible wrenching sound. I can feel your sympathy through your laughter. Regardless of your entertainment and my raised premiums, it’s something I’ve had to live with. What an idiot, right?
So the auto body shop put on a new door and about a week later we got our car back, looking precisely and profoundly the way it was intended to.
But something wasn’t quite right. And honestly, just from me to you, hasn’t been quite right ever since.
That new door looks fantastic. You can’t even tell anything ever happened. Until you open the door. It sticks when you open it in the cold. The old one never stuck. And the new door also creaks a lot more than the old one did. It just doesn’t feel right.
Even though the new door was machined to exactly the same precision dimensions as the old one, even though it’s been built and painted to be exactly the same as the old one, it isn’t the old one.
There’s something about the way the car was originally built that the old door was perfect, the entire car was perfect. It was made exactly the way the creators intended it to be made. Something about how all the parts fit together at the factory in that “just right” kind of way.
The car was exactly the way it was supposed to be before my dumpster-meet-door matchmaking scheme. After that mistake, it was never going to be the same. Things weren’t ever going to match up in that “perfect way” again. Something just wasn’t quite right.
There’s the way I was meant to be. The version of myself that always makes the right decisions. The one that always treats everyone with the compassion, mercy and understanding that they deserve and that I am capable of. The one where all the parts fit together as they were intended to.
The way that I am, though, is different. The “real” version is fraught with mistakes. It’s rife with misunderstanding and insufficiency. It may look perfect, but then you open the door and feel the friction.
There’s the me that I can be and there’s the me that I am. The hard part is choosing the former over and over and over, even though the latter is the easier way.
The easy way is to pretend that I’ve got it all together and that everything is perfect. But that’s not honest. That’s not who I am or who we are. We are well-earned-dents-pounded-out, scratched-by-life-and-filled-back-in, original-parts-replaced-over-and-over, multiple-owners-multiple-crashes, run-into-the-ground kind of people.
The greatest thing is that even with all of that, we are in the hands of One who can and does restore us, rebuild us, repair us and redeem us. But only if we’re honest.