I found this note on the floor of my car last week. A crumpled remnant left behind by my 10 year old boy. A remnant that was possibly tossed around his class at church and may have lived a previous life as a paper airplane, in true 10 year old fashion, but one that caught my eye, just the same.
Apparently he was asked to list the things for which he was thankful and the usual suspects surfaced. Family, friends, the pets, legos, and food. The sum of which comprises a decent life when you’re ten.
But one thing on the list caught my eye. The car. I couldn’t help but giggle.
My son knows cars, a little. He’s always watching for Camaros, keeping his eye out for the car he thinks he’d like to drive some day.
But we don’t drive a Camaro. No, no, not quite.
We drive a Tahoe. Circa 2002. It’s a nearly 14 year old beauty complete with torn leather seats and an odometer nearing 174,000 miles. It has heated seats that have long lost the ability to heat your seat and comes with an endearing little dent in the front corner from where the mailbox ran into me last year. It has a third row seat, which provides seating enough for our family of 6, but which leaves approximately 12 inches of cargo space for groceries, soccer equipment, a stroller or anything else I might need to haul around.
The gas gauge hasn’t operated properly for years now. It also comes with unusual electrical quirks, like the power seats that work only in opposite directions and a clock that resets the time at unsuspecting intervals. The heat no longer works beyond the front row and occasionally one of the rear window does not incline to being rolled up.
As I said, it’s no Camaro.
I’ve had a hard time appreciating this car in recent years. We purchased it used back when I had only one child calling me mom and had no idea how many more carseats we’d be needing. With each new Westenberg this car has meant less real estate per person and turned my shopping trips into a virtual game of Tetris, as I stuff groceries between, underneath, and even on top of kids when I’m desperate.
If I’m being honest, It’s safe to say my car hasn’t made my thankful list for a few years running now.
So I decided to ask my son about his list. “The car. Really, buddy?” I question. And without hesitation he responds, “yeah, you know, mom, transportation. It’s sweet.”
Transportation, of course.
How do I forget so quickly? How am I so easily distracted? I warp the gifts God has given me like an ungrateful 2 year old and grumble, somehow buying the lie that I deserve better. As my car overflows with food for my family, food in such quantities that we barely have room to haul it home and I fill my gas tank without flinching, I have the audacity to be ungrateful? To think I deserve better? Really?
You know I always smile when children make these sort of lists, pray these sort of prayers. Young children all seem to thank God for pretty much the same things. Their elementary lists of the “good” things in their lives, reveal a bit of their natural immaturity. Almost as if God is Santa Claus they thank him for the happy and comforting things in their lives.
But this year, as we approach the one annual day set aside for giving thanks, I fear I may not have matured all that much in 35 years. I use bigger words, write nicer sentences. I throw in a few adjectives and make my thankful lists look prettier. But my gratitude is often still so superficial, so very surface. I thank God for only what I see as good, only what I, in my limited and warped perspective, see as a gift.
This year may we bravely seek to offer up a heart of authentic gratitude. May we boldly give thanks not only for the shiny and pretty, the neat and tidy, but may we give thinks for the hard and the messy, the scratched and dented places of our lives,with hearts surrendered to the fact that He is God and even in the hard to see place, He is working out things for our good.
You know, Sometimes I wonder how I ever got this mommy job, wonder if He really meant to choose me, because man do I ever have some growing to do. I’m taking lessons from my 10 year old this year because truly I so very much to be thankful for. Beginning, of course, with my car.