A car slammed into me — part 2

A few weeks ago, a car slammed into me as I was turning into my apartment complex. Our cars were a bit messed up, but everyone was okay and the accident turned into a beautiful encounter.

And this story just keeps getting better.

The entire bumper of my car fell off so once insurance went through, I took it to a body shop for repairs. On Friday night, the insurance agency called and let me know that the damages were more than they anticipated — and my car was a now total loss. Bye bye sweet 2007 Honda Accord.

I know it’s just a car, but I felt like I was punched in the stomach. The accident wasn’t my fault, yet my car was now completely gone. I drove that baby for nearly a decade and it held so many memories. And now I suddenly needed to purchase a car. That part was probably the toughest part for me — because a new car automatically made me think of my dad.

Before my dad passed away, he spent the majority of his working life as a used car salesman. I know car salesmen get a bad rep, but this definitely had its perks — especially when I was buying a car. My dad knew all the questions to ask and he always helped me find really good, quality cars. But now he was gone too and I’d have to do this — alone.

Or so I thought.

Over the past few days, friends encouraged me to trust God and hugged me when I felt discouraged. One friend even asked me to picture Jesus and I dancing around the very challenge I was going through. In my mind, I saw Jesus and I laughing and doing a little jig around the car — but all of a sudden I realized we were doing a dance around a different car! It wasn’t my gray 2007 Honda Accord — it was a deep blue colored car.

God, is this my new car?

I opened a few car dealership websites and found a newer used version of the Honda Accord — and it was the SAME exact color that was in my vision. On Monday night, I went to a local dealership and asked to test drive that car. As a salesman pulled it up, a man in the showroom said, “Lauren?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Did you go to Carthage College?” the man asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Did you get your master’s degree?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Your dad was so proud of you.”

I burst into tears. “What’s your name?” I asked.

“Gene,” he replied. “I worked with your dad.”

The dealership I walked into was one where my dad previously worked — over a decade ago. I was sure no one would be there who knew him, but God had other plans.

The next day, I went back to the dealership to test drive a few other cars. I walked in and again, a different man said, “Lauren?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“I’m James,” he said. “I worked with your dad.”

Over the next three hours, James and I test drove cars and James told me story after story about my dad — some silly, some serious, some downright embarrassing, and even some stories I had never heard.

“Your dad had such a passion for this business,” he said. “He taught me so much. I was so young and I learned so much from him.”

It felt so good to talk about my dad. Although he’s no longer here, it was such a gift to remember qualities about him. It was such a gift to recall stories. It was such a gift to recognize new things I had never known about him. I almost felt like I could hear his laugh.

If I hadn’t experienced that accident, I wouldn’t have walked into that dealership. If my car hadn’t been totaled, I wouldn’t have walked into that dealership. I don’t think God causes accidents, but I do know he is the best redeemer there is — and he weaved this circumstance into beauty. Who knew Heaven could touch earth at a car dealership?

I’m not sure if this season is difficult or joyful for you. Maybe it points to a loss in your life. Maybe you’re grieving. Maybe you know someone who is grieving. Maybe life keeps punching you in the stomach. Today, I want to speak hope over your life. I want to speak hope over your family and friends’ lives. God cherishes you. He sees every detail and he is hugging you as you cry. He is holding you as you squeak out the smallest of prayers. He has great plans for your future even if right now seems so very dark. Keep holding on. Keep pressing in. The light is coming.

And maybe this season is one of love and laughter for you. I bless that and I say, “Amen! More Holy Spirit!” I pray that God would open your eyes to let that love overflow to those around you. I pray you would recognize those who may be hurting this season and offer hope to them, too. Sometimes hope is as simple as letting them talk about their pain with you. I can’t tell you how healing it was to simply remember and talk about my dad with someone else. I didn’t even know I needed that. God will guide you as you interact with friends and strangers this Christmas. He will love people through you and you will make a difference.

I pray — for all of us — that we experience God’s kindness this Christmas season in a new and fresh way.

God, we receive your kindness. Our hearts are open to watch you move.

Before I knew it, I sat across the desk from James and signed some paperwork. I was the owner of a new (used) car. It wasn’t in my plans for sure, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet Gene and James.

And then the time came for James to place the keys in my hand. The car accident story was officially complete. A new beginning, a new season. A fresh start had officially begun. I gave everyone one last hug, opened the door of the deep blue colored car and started the engine. Waving goodbye, I smiled, thanking God for his kindness and curiously wondered what story he was writing next…I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I knew it would be good.

Joyfully,
Lauren

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