A couple weeks ago Nick and I bought a car.
I tend to have a difficult time spending money, and often feel guilty for spending even $10 on a shirt. Clearly, spending thousands of dollars on a car is a stressful experience for me.
You would think this would mean that I would spend a lot of time making the decision. But no, Nick and I drove to another suburb, test drove a car, and then bought it the same day.
What. Were we thinking?
I’m slightly ashamed to publicly admit how fast we made the decision.
A lot of things were in play here- Nick and I had already spent several months last summer test driving and looking at cars and were dreading the time consuming, anxiety provoking process again. Nick’s car is basically one more drive away from falling apart. This car seemed like a good deal.
Still, we made the decision way too fast.
I felt surprisingly peaceful during the negotiations and purchase of said car and told myself I must have peace because we prayed about it and it’s the right decision. I hoped I would not be plagued with the usual feelings of guilt and anxiety afterwards.
No such luck. The farther from the dealership we drove, the stronger my anxiety and buyer’s remorse grew. In the next two days I wasn’t even excited about the car. I couldn’t think about it without getting literally sick to my stomach. When I drove it I could only notice the millions of things that were wrong with it (things like it doesn’t have armrests or wasn’t the color I wanted) and that I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice while test driving. Nick was amazingly patient as I cried and worried and asked him to be patient with me until this passed (I had very similar feelings after my parents bought me Harriet, my Ford Focus lovingly named after both Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe (two of my heroes, but I digress), which I grew to love, so I knew the feelings would pass…eventually).
So far, our new car was a good deal and there is nothing actually wrong with it.
But I was literally unable to sleep or relax for at least two days, and the residual anxiety and depression that grew out of my remorse is only now slowly slithering away.
As I’ve been dealing with all of these super intense (and super difficult) emotions I have been asking myself what are these feelings really about? What is happening in my heart that is making this decision feel like the end of the world? A car is a big deal, but it is also just a car.
At first I thought it was just my control issues again, but I have identified two other ugly things in addition to control that contributed to my strong buyer’s remorse/anxiety:
I have no control over whether this car was a lemon or not. I have no control over how long this car will last us. I have no control over whether or not those car salesman were feeding me lies or not. I hate not having control, and not having control causes me fear. It is far too easy for me to fear the worst, instead of trusting in God for His best. What is the worst that could happen? The car is a lemon, we have to buy another car and pay two car payments. Even if this happens, we could handle it. We would find a way. My need for control robs me of the opportunity to lean into my faith.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:25-26
I’m trying remember my value in God’s eyes and to let that give me faith.
I felt stupid after buying a car so fast. I hate feeling stupid, or even not smart. I hate to think I didn’t make a good decision. I hate the think the logical, intelligent, hard working person I like to think of myself as made a rash and potentially bad decision. I hate to think that those salesmen might have felt they got away with something. I hate to think that maybe we could have talked the price down farther. I hate to think that I’m not good at something.
I’m trying to remember that my only pride is in a God who came to Earth to suffer for my mistakes (and, ironically, my pride).
I am so grateful for everything that I have- I have a home, fresh water, a good job, a loving family, kind friends, and food every day. But sometimes instead of enjoying what I have, I think of what I want. I have the hardest time being present in the moment. I could have been enjoying a new car that doesn’t rattle like my old one, has a working air conditioner and blinker, and doesn’t have any rust. Instead, I was thinking of what the car didn’t have, or how I might have been able to find a better or cheaper one.
Nick has taught me a lot about contentment and just being mindful about where I am in each moment. When we were first married and we would cuddle or sit on the couch together all I could think about is the million things I wasn’t getting done. Now I am much better at being with him in each moment- enjoying the feel of his arms around me or the comfort of resting my head on his chest- doing nothing together.
I’m trying to enjoy each moment on this crazy, God-created Earth and not look too much to the future.
So there you have it. Control. Pride. Discontent.
All this confessing is making me a little uneasy, but I’m okay with that because I know it does no good to hide my sins- and I probably couldn’t even if I wanted to. Talking to coworker friend the day after buying the car I teared up- my anxiety was visible. I don’t want to hide my sins, because they don’t get better if I do. Tim Chester says that if we don’t tell others about our sin so they can keep us accountable, there is some part of us that still wants to hold on to that sin.
So, I don’t know, I guess I’ll keep working on this…not because I need to (I am free thanks to Jesus) but because I want to.