Warning Signs

Warning lights indicate a deeper problem. Simply placing duct tape over the light does not fix the problem. Removing the light bulb does not fix the problem. Honestly, either of those options are typically far cheaper than addressing the problem itself. My car is a warning light ready to explode. Last spring, a warning light on my dash showed up–after the car stalled at a stop light. Then I restarted my engine and the light went away. Until the car stalled again.

Twelve weeks and nearly the worth of the car in mechanic’s fees later, I was driving to Virginia from Indiana via Florida and South Carolina when my car stalled yet again. What good is a warning light if it only comes on after the car thuds to a stop in middle of yet another busy intersection? Fortunately, I was able to get a permanent repair done in Virginia, costing me only $128 in comparison to the outrageous amount I’d spent on turning the warning light off previously.

A year later, I walked out of school on one of the first nice days of the year and shining obnoxiously from my dash is my warning light. I checked the fluids in my car, I changed the oil just to be safe, and threatened to duct tape over the light. The mysteries contained in the inner recesses of my car’s engine are beyond my intelligence quotient, so I once again took my car to the mechanic. Counting the pennies in my cup holder was enough to assure me that I was not prepared to spend another fortune on this ill-fated warning light. All I needed was for someone to tell me that the car was destined for a junkyard, a life of inconsistent running, or that I could just buy a motorcycle. But, alas, a small hole in my exhaust pipe had caused the oxygen sensor to read incorrectly, so a few minutes of welding was enough to turn the warning light off and keep my car running.

Why tell you my automobile woes? Certainly it’s not just to complain. If I wanted to do that, I would tell you all the other reasons I don’t think my car is appropriate to my level of coolness…such as the dent in the front panel left by my brother’s hand while pushing my car out of its muddy parking spot in our yard. Either its an eyesore or a great conversation piece. I haven’t decided.

The thing is, I have warning lights too. For example, I love playing volleyball. If I had to choose a single sport to play for the rest of my life, there would be no question–I would choose volleyball. Every once in awhile though, I don’t have fun playing volleyball. I get angry at myself, play like a two year old with crutches, and find myself hating the sport. My big neon warning light is flashing violently at this point. Something is wrong. And it’s not just my inability to play volleyball.

Just like the warning light on my car, my bad attitude playing volleyball indicates a deeper problem. Ignoring the attitude helps no one. So on Tuesday night, when I unwillingly shut down, when I couldn’t get a spike, when I repeatedly shanked easy passes, and threw sets way too far outside for Elasti-girl to reach, when I considered it a success that I hadn’t said anything vulgar in my frustration…I knew something else was wrong.

Perhaps a more perceptive person would identify a problem before all the lights were flashing red, but no one ever said I was attentive to details. I’m very good at burying my problems under stuff, working through pain, and ignoring my issues. But when it affects my volleyball, it is time to take care of business. I left volleyball, went home, and started praying into my journal. As a natural writer, it’s easier for me to process things when I write, so journaling has developed into an easy way for me to get my thoughts out where I can identify them in prayer. This is what spilled from my angry pen on Tuesday night:

Lord, I’m stressed. It’s coming out in volleyball. It’s coming out subtly at work. It’s coming out with my horses. It evidences my failure to trust you. Lord, you know what’s wrong with Symphony. You know when my visa will come. You know how much support I still need and what the plane ticket will cost and when I will actually leave. Lord, you know what kind of home I will find for Señorita–and you know why she’s lame. Lord, you know, and you are good. I can’t bear this burden. Holding onto it, claiming it as my own is exhausting. Lord, send your grace in place of my arrogance. Send your peace in place of my anger. Send your love in place of my isolation. I need you to be just that–to be Lord.

Last night, I went to a Bible study and left with Psalm 40:1a burning in my mind:

“I waited patiently for the Lord.”

When the warning light in my car turns on, I take it to the mechanic. When my attitude reflects the light glaring from my dashboard, I need to take it before the Heart Mechanic, the Creator, Savior, and Lord. And sometimes, fixing the problem costs me something.

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