I tend to look at life events as metaphors or symbols. Usually the level of my emotional responses in life has less to do with actual events than they have to do with earlier, more significant events. Here’s one recent example…
My family needed to have some regular maintenance work done on our car – you know, things like oil change, lube, etc. Our car had been returned to us less than 24 hours, when it had problems of a more significant nature that had to do with the electrical system, to a tune of $1,100.00. (This was on top of a regular service charge of over $500.00.) Unfortunately, this was not the first time this had happened to us. We had one or two other incidents where our vehicle needed additional repairs that popped up shortly after having our car serviced.
The first feelings I had were panic, alarm, overwhelm, and uncertainty. Then I felt suspicious. Did the auto parts person rig things such that something else would go wrong? Next I felt betrayed, disturbed, manipulated, puzzled, and troubled.
My husband, who knows a lot about cars, approached the service manager with our dilemma – the “coincidence” of our cars needing additional repair shortly after having them serviced for at least the 2nd or 3rd time. He approached them about the patterns he had experienced.
I prayed for God’s favor both in the interaction with the manager and with the outcome. My wishful thinking was that “I wanted the dealer to find something they did in error, and take responsibility to fix it at no cost to us.” My husband was ultimately able to negotiate for a lower price in the total bill.
However, when my prayer wasn’t answered as I had hoped, I began to question my husband about his negotiation skills. “Did he say this? Did he do this?” He later told me that he felt unappreciated, discounted, frustrated, and resentful.
The bottom line was this: The auto dealership could take whatever ownership they wanted, but the fixing of the mess under the hood of the car was ultimately our responsibility. We had choices; we could choose to have the car towed back to our place (abandoning the fix), take it to another dealership (still requiring a fix), or buy another car (still requiring energy and additional expense).
This reminds me of my relationship with Jesus and my own recovery. There is something wrong under the hood of the car, something you can’t see from the outside. I go to Jesus as my Intercessor and Negotiator to make things right. I have wishful thinking that everything will go as I want it to, at no cost to me. But it usually doesn’t work out that way. People in my life don’t always take ownership for the responsibilities of their mistakes that they have made or the harm done to me.
But I am still left with the burden of responsibility to fix the mess under the hood of the car, i.e., the result of abuse or painful events in my past.
I can try to go around this mess, but there will ultimately be some cost involved. The costs are difficult and painful – feelings that have been shoved underground and not felt; disappointments, harm, and pain experienced in my life, money that will need to be spent on therapy; time in life for 12-step and other meetings. The costs can be pretty significant, but the end result is a vehicle (body) whose insides (mind and spirit) are running on all cylinders.
What is under the hood of your car? How are you addressing the repair and the maintenance? At what cost is this taking place?
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40)
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.