Don’t judge a book by its cover.
These quotes easily roll off the tongue and slide through our lips as we spout them to each other or ourselves and hear a hearty “Amen” in the back, but when the rubber meets the road, where do we lie, are we the judge or the one judged? Let me give you an example.
About 2 years ago, my daughter and I were riding to work/school on a sunny spring morning. It was a typical Tuesday until a car pulled out in front of us as we were traveling along at 55 mph. I tried to swerve to avoid the unavoidable, but that only caused us to flip upside down and then slide across the road. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life. No one was physically hurt in the accident, but my beautiful Ford Escape was totaled.
Since we ended upside down financially as well, I suggested we just get a cheap car temporarily. I do listen to Dave Ramsey (although don’t always follow through!). A coworker had one for sale at the right price and we jumped on it.
It was a 2000 two door Pontiac Sunfire. It used to be red, but one of the previous owners decided to paint it grey. The grey paint had seen better days. I guess through sun exposure the clear coat started to bubble and was flaking off the hood, the roof and the sides of the doors.The passenger side mirror was broken and would slowly adjust down as car moved. The interior was in pretty good shape, except the digital odometer that kept track of mileage, no longer worked properly. My coworker did warn me that when it rained, water leaked in the trunk. I really didn’t care about any of these things, except that it ran, was pretty reliable, and cheap. It wasn’t like this was going to be my forever, car, right?
A few months ago I had another accident, again with my daughter in the car. This time it only involved one vehicle: my Sunfire. It was totally my fault. It tore up the left front fender and front undercarriage, but not bad enough to turn it into insurance, so now I drive a cheap, paint-peeling, fender-bent Sunfire.
I wish I could say that it doesn’t bother me to drive it around. Most days, it doesn’t. But not every day. Some days, when I have to go to a certain kind of place and be around certain kind of people (with more money and better cars), I get, you know, the I-wish-I-drove-a-nice-car-so-everyone-will-like-me blues. Because we all know that people judge you by what you drive and where you live, right? I mean, isn’t that why some people throw down some SERIOUS cash on some RIDICULOUS vehicles while living in a not-so-nice house?
C’mon, don’t act so self-righteous. You know that if you see a certain kind of car pull up beside you, you lock your doors and pray the light turns green quickly.
I’ve been wondering about the I-wish-I-drove-a-nice-car-so-everyone-will-like-me blues and it bothers me that I get that way. I mean, why would I worry about others, unless I, myself, am judging people with that same ruler? That’s it, isn’t it? I judge others based on what they drive, but don’t want others to do the same. Ouch.
I believe what the Lord told Samuel is true: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT) I also truly value God’s opinion about me more so than any other, so at times, I drive around spiritually mature. I look around at others and smile sweetly, thinking “You may snub your nose at me or look down on me, but I’m rich in God’s eyes. He knows my heart!” Wait, depending on how I say that, is that really spiritually mature, or spiritually condescending??
So, then, I slip into the I-wish-no-one-would-see-me-get-out-of-this-car blues. I secretly pray people won’t recognize me or that I had a big hat and sunglasses on. Psychologists call it avoidance. It doesn’t work so well in a small town. You can’t avoid anyone.
I watched a documentary the other day called Living on One Dollar, where four American friends travel to rural Guatemala, and they attempt to exist on a dollar a day for two months to experience life in extreme poverty. These people are definitely not thinking about the I-wish-I-drove-a-nice-car-so-everyone-will-like-me blues, they are only thinking about how to survive or how to feed their family. It caused me to think.
I’m currently reading a book titled “Confessions of a Transformed Heart” by Nancy D. Sheppard. She and her husband are missionaries to Liberia, a country that has faced civil unrest and war for years. Those people are also only thinking about survival. This also made me think.
How much of the world lives in poverty? According to Compassion International’s website of poverty statistics, almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day and 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.
So, understandably, I, like millions of others living in the United States, are “rich” Americans, and are living far easier lives than half the world. Driving a slightly embarrassing vehicle should be the least of my worries.
I’m glad I have my Sunfire and most days, I like it. It runs fine and the gas mileage is great. I like it most of all because it has taught me a valuable lesson, that I’m still working on. “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles [or nice cars*], expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT) Gentle and quiet are not the first two adjectives that people use to describe me, but I’m trying.
I’m also trying to do this: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now [like fancy cars] will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see [love, faith, hope, forgiveness] will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)
May the things we can’t see be the biggest and the best things in our lives.
* Words in purple mine.