(Disclaimer: this is going to sound like it’s about the car. It’s not…)
In the past few weeks we have been having some car trouble. Our beloved Subaru must know that we will part with it soon, because it started acting up. There was this annoying, sporadic wobble thing it would do. We’ve had our mechanic fix things as they have come up on the car, because 1) we like the car, and 2) we don’t want a car payment. So when this wobble began we knew we needed to have them look at it. Plus we have a friend who is very excited about buying the car from us, and we want to sell him something worth having. We went through the hoops and were told it would cost over a grand to fix the problem at one place, and then told by another party that it was most likely a tire issue instead. The car has been close to needing a new set anyway, which we priced out at around $400. So on Saturday we spent part of our morning, and some money, on getting a set of new tires put on our Subaru. But let me back up and tell you about how we got to the tire store on Saturday.
I (Jamie) mostly drive the Subaru. Landon likes driving Leonard (our 1980 something full sized Ford pick-up) and even though I enjoy it too, my short legs get tired of dealing with the manual transmission. The two have sort of become mine and his, respectively. I have driven some doozies for vehicles in my life, and have learned that I really appreciate having one that is reliable. (In fact that is partly why our start up cost is what it is. We are hoping to be able to purchase something that will serve our needs well, and start up every time we turn the key.) So when the Subaru, which is my daily driver, began with this wobbling, I got frustrated. And then I got scared. And then I got panicky. Instead of remaining calm and in prayer, I let the long list of ‘what ifs’ get into my head and feed that anxious beast that tries to rule my life. All I could imagine when the wobble would happen was my tire seizing as I was cruising west on Beltline at 60 mph, slamming my car into the median, or worse, another car. And I work at the hospital. I know what that looks like. I know what that can result in. So as a wife, I naturally told my husband that I felt unsafe. That key word created in my husband an urgency. I would even say, in a way, a blind urgency. All of a sudden this went from a car problem, to something he needed to protect me from, which stirs in him a response he can not soon recover from. Quickly, this wobbling steering wheel became an overwhelming, suck-all-our-energy issue. We had multiple conversations (which were anything but calm) about it, and what to do about it. It ruled our lives for those few days.
When it was suggested to us that it could be a bad tire issue, we said, “Ok. Lets go buy tires.” We were referred to a good shop and the manager who helped us was great. He listened to everything we explained and assured us that yes, it could be the tires. We gave him the go ahead, and an hour or so later we were leaving the parking lot, very hopeful. But as soon as we got on Beltline, the wobble began again with a vengeance. Landon was pissed. And I laughed. Laughed. Hysterically. I could not hold it back. I thought Landon would lose it. I was infuriating him with my laughter, which is not what I meant to do, but I could not believe at what was happening. I honestly said, “I just don’t care anymore. I don’t know what is wrong and I don’t know what to do to fix it, but I am so over this. I do not want to give this problem any more of my energy. Because it won’t matter in a year.” Landon reminded me that it wouldn’t matter in two months, but also that we still had a problem to deal with. I knew that, but just couldn’t believe that this is what we had to put so much energy towards.
Two days went by, and we dropped the car at the mechanic, asking them to drive it and try to replicate the problem so they could understand what was happening. Long story short it ended up being a warped brake caliper, which was actually still under warranty from the work we had done two years ago, so we ended up just paying for the labor and some new brake fluid. But here was the bigger lesson we learned: as soon as we give space to what-ifs, fear enters. And then fear ushers in anxiety. And then anxiety ushers in anger. And anger divides us as husband and wife. It pits us against one another. As a wife I learned that I am just as responsible for my husband’s mental well-being as he is. By a single word I can send him into a place that is very difficult to recover from, and that is not something to take lightly. We also were very acutely reminded that we have an enemy, one that will not play by any rules. One that wants anything and everything to distract us from what the Lord has told us to do. Because what we are about to launch into is powerful. And life-changing. And makes Jesus famous. And that will not come without opposition.