In 1991, we purchased a new maroon Chevrolet Lumina with a gray cloth interior, the car version, not the mini-van. As a matter of context, I was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in Universal City, Texas northeast of San Antonio. Cheri and I and our two sons, who were in elementary school at the time, lived in government housing on the base. Cheri was a stay-at-home mom with a small daycare business. We could only afford one car, a 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier, and it was constantly needing repairs. In addition, it was a stressful circumstance because money was tight but we needed a reliable car. So, we traded our car in for a new one and we justified the purchase because I recently got a promotion and Cheri’s brother worked for General Motors and we got a family discount.
The next week, as Wednesday night rolled around, we drove our new car to the church. Our new discipleship pastor just happened to pull into the parking lot next to us. He noticed we had a new car and we talked about it for a few minutes and then he said, “You know the problem with buying a new car, don’t you? As soon as you get a door ding, that’s all you’ll focus on.” I laughed and thought the comment was a bit silly and then we went on with the evening without another thought of the car or the conversation. A couple of weeks go by and we stop to shop at a nearby so-called big box store. As we were returning to the car in the parking lot there it was. It stood out as if the car was talking to me like a child telling his daddy, look at my booboo. I mean door ding. Just so happens, that it was on the driver’s side door so I had to look at it every time I got in the car. And then, as if there were a tape recorder inside my head, I kept hearing the voice of our new discipleship pastor, “You know the problem with buying a new car, don’t you? As soon as you get a door ding, that’s all you’ll focus on.”
I have to admit, I fretted over that door-ding. I got frustrated every time I looked at it. But I was trapped. The estimated repair cost was less than my insurance deductible and I couldn’t afford the repairs. I know, I know–vanity, vanity, all is vanity. In any case, I just learned to live with it and tried to ignore it. And then I noticed, it wasn’t just door-dings that distracted me. The list included a loose thread or small discoloration in my clothing, a scuff on my shoe, uneven sideburns, a scratched watch, and so on. By the way, I can’t imagine what it must be like to suffer from OCD. In any case, I learned the hard way that it’s not good when you can’t see the big picture and be thankful for what you have even when everything and everybody isn’t perfect. Even with a door ding, our new car was still a nice reliable form of transportation.
Admittedly, there are times when our cars, clothes, and jewelry need to be fixed but there’s no excuse to allow these distractions to steal our attention, joy, and even our thankfulness. We can also apply this principle to much more important matters like our relationships. Do you have any door-dings in your relationships? If so, might I suggest taking the biblical approach to addressing it?
- Rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances. 1 THES 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Strive for peace and holiness. HE 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
- Overlook an offense if you can. PR 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
- Forgive regardless. COL 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
- Throw away your scorecards. 1COR 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Examine yourself before addressing the offense with your brother. MT 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
- Work to repair the relationship if you can’t overlook the offense. MT 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Even worse than a door-ding or a scuffed shoe, fractured relationships can become unnecessary distractions, even heartaches. If your car gets a door-ding, step back and take the time to thank God for the transportation you have. If you get a scuff on your shoe, take the time to buff it out as you thank God for having shoes. And most importantly, thank God for the people He put in your life and invest in those relationships.
- Are you praying for your family, friends, co-workers, and fellow church members?
- Are you thankful for the people in your life, even the more challenging ones?
- Have you asked God to bless the people in your life?
- Have you asked God to fill your heart with love for the people in your life?
Now remember, door-dings are unnecessary distractions and fractured relationships are devastatingly worse. With God’s help and guidance, take action and stay focused on the important things in life.
A Work in Progress,