I don’t know much about cars. Most of the time when asked what kind of car I drive, I say, “Black”. The thought of looking for a car, comparing all the prices and gas mileage equations, then haggling with the sales force makes me need a nap. I’m really not choosy about what I drive, mostly because of my lack of car knowledge. In my opinion the most important thing about a car is cup holder placement. My car has 10 in strategic locations.
The greatest thing Jim Brawner has ever done for me was buy a car and ask me to meet him at the dealership. The salesman handed me the keys, I got in, adjusted the seat and mirrors and drove away. Is that romantic or what?
The other day, after a mind numbing stroll through TJ MAXX, I opened the door to get into my car, but it wasn’t my car. It was black, it was an SUV type of vehicle, but the silver 5 inch heels in the floor of the passenger seat weren’t mine. I jumped back and shut the door, then looked around to see if anyone was watching. It was like stumbling and acting like it was on purpose.
I quickly found my car two spots further down the row and wondered if I should go back and wipe off my finger prints. I called Jill. “You will never believe what I just did,” I said, watching the other black car.
Silence. “OK, well maybe you will.”
She laughed, “What did you do this time.”
My pride a bit wounded, I replayed the last few minutes.
“What kind of car was it, Mom.”
I quickly got out and looked. “Oh brother! Mercedes,” I sighed, as I got back in my car. “But, they look so much alike.”
“Mom, there is a big difference in a Toyota and a Mercedes Benz! A Mercedes has a whole lot more fancy going on.”
I hung up promising to be more careful in parking lots. On the way home I stopped at a light behind a white SUV with fish and hog decals on either side of the Mercedes emblem. The driver must be a fancy, Christian, Razorback fan, I thought. At least I recognized a Mercedes this time.
I’m reading a book, Mud And The Masterpiece, my friend Amy Stillings gave me. It’s one of those perspective shifters full of challenges about how we look at people. The author, John Burke, points out that we humans are quick to slap labels on each other, especially those who don’t look, talk, think or smell like we do. It makes me squirm a little.
Reading that reminded me how quickly I made assumptions about the woman at the traffic light . I didn’t know her at all, but I labeled her. She may not have it all together even though she has a fish on her fancy car. She might be dealing with a lot of hurt and mud in her life. And, just maybe she was driving her sister-in-law’s car and it wasn’t even hers.
John Burke also asks if the reader has ever considered how Jesus looked at people and if that’s how we see and treat others. Jesus chose compassion and grace as opposed to arrogance and being a jerk. After I read that part I had to put the book down for a while.
I’ve been reminded of a couple of things. First: I’m not called to judge and label people, I’m supposed to love and encourage. I’m really working on that. I made a comment the other day about a man who was a bit scary looking and instantly reminded myself; I don’t even know him.
Second: All black cars, especially the SUV type, look the same to me. Maybe I should start looking at people the same way.