I was feeling pretty proud of myself the other day when I made an appointment to take my van in to get the tires rotated. More often than not I remember to take it in way over the recommended mileage and the tire guy sort of rolls his eyes and gives me a little speech about the importance of getting the tires rotated on scheduled. However, this time I was right on the money and feeling good about it.
I knew something was up when he came back out only a few minutes after I gave him the keys. His first question was, so how long has it been since you had a front-end alignment? Um, I don’t know, why is there a problem? Follow me and I will show you. You know that sinking feeling I experienced at that moment, right? He pointed to where the side walls of the tire were severely worn, like in the danger zone. You really shouldn’t be driving on these tires, he said. Really? They’re that bad huh? Yup, you are going to need to replace them, and you are in luck because we have a good sale on the same tire that is on there now. I didn’t feel lucky; I felt sick to my stomach. I felt shame scratching at the back of my mind. I started to think about what an idiot I was because I didn’t know about my van being out of alignment, followed by, man this is going to cost a lot of money.
So what do you want to do? The tire guys voice pulled me out of my shame spiral, and I told him that it didn’t seem like I have a choice. Go ahead, put a new set on. As I sat in the waiting area, I began to remember how much I hate cars, and car maintenance. At the same time I was feeling sorry for myself I sensed that the Holy Spirit was asking me to pay attention because he had something for me to learn. But I don’t know if I want a lesson right now.
He didn’t stop
Why are you feeling bad about not knowing the car was out of alignment? You’re not a mechanic, are you? Well no, but I could have saved a bunch of money…I only got half of the life out of those tires. Did you do anything wrong? No, but… Then why are you beating yourself up?
I know, I too often go immediately to shame over these kinds of situations.
The next thing he said was, rather than see this as a bad thing, how about being grateful that you found out about the tires before you had a blowout on the highway? Ouch! You are right, thank you Lord for keeping me, and everyone around me, safe. Oh and one more thing, don’t you remember that I am your provider? Don’t worry about the money, you always have enough. Oh yeah, thank you Lord that you are my provider, protector, and my strength.
I wish that I could say that I have always processed situations like this with clarity and grace. Not even close. In the past, I would have stayed in that funk for hours, or maybe even days. I would have spewed unkind things about myself, and would not have opened my heart to what the Spirit wanted to tell me. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to so quickly regain perspective.
The enemy is a master at distorting our perspective, and I am convinced that this is what his emissaries spend the majority of their time doing. Have you noticed this in your own life? Something unexpected happens…something is said, a mistake is made, something breaks, or you don’t know that your car is out of alignment, and immediately the enemy is there to put a negative thought in our heads (the battle is always against our mind). In a split second, often because it taps into a past wound, our perspective gets distorted. We begin to run with it and before we know it, we are covered with shame, or we move toward anger at the speed of light.
The beautiful thing is that just as quickly as that distorted perspective shows its ugly face, you and I can hit the pause button and re-align our perspective. Did you notice how I slipped re-aligned in there? I know, pretty clever even if I do say so myself. But seriously; like my van, when we are out of alignment because of our distorted perspective it does damage to our hearts, and we get pulled to the left or the right far to easily. The cool thing is we have been given the knowledge and the tools to correct the problem. Jesus gives us the authority and strength to realign and change our perspective if we are willing to exercise the muscle of our will.