• Pastor Emily

The Mid-Sized Gray SUV Spiritual Practice

by Allie Shoulders, Director of Adult Discipleship

The car I drive is a mid-sized gray SUV. Apparently half of Sonoma County also drives mid-sized gray SUVs because they are everywhere. Parking lots are full of them. Not being much of a car person, if a car is roughly the same shade as mine and not obviously very different, I often find myself trying to open the driver side door of the wrong mid-sized grey SUV. It happens almost weekly and it used to be embarrassing now it is just one of my quirks and fortunately I have only once tried to open the door of a car with someone inside (I’m sorry Mona Broyles!). Some of the cars I have tried to open looked more expensive, newer, and possibly had nicer things inside, but my car is mine, it holds my things and if it has gas and is reasonably maintained I can drive it For this reason I am always happy to locate my car. What I briefly thought was mine was not. After being momentarily disoriented, I realize I am relieved to discover I was wrong. This has evolved into what I call the Mid-sized Gray SUV spiritual practice.

Even if I do not engage in the Mid-sized Gray SUV spiritual practice on purpose, it delivers an important lesson on humility. It reminds me that belief does not always equal truth. It forces me to see I am not always right. Let me also say very quickly that just because I have this practice I do not claim to be model of humility! Not at all and to imply as much would a good indicator I am very far from it. It is an attitude that needs to be relearned again and again, dally if not hourly. But this is good news because my ultimate identity is that I am a child of God whose thoughts are much higher and far more numerous than mine and he loves me in all circumstances. A constant, continual re-commitment to an attitude of humility is essential for any serious follower of Christ. To live this way will require much more than the Mid-sized Gray SUV spiritual practice, it is just a small start.

It is a statement of fact that as a society we tend to be very poor at discussing our differences. This is compounded by the stress of isolation. For many of us our opinions become our identities. Even if we could engage in a discussion that carefully weighs both sides, to be proven wrong often results in risk of losing that identity, potentially friends and embarrassment. But on the other hand, if I discover I am wrong about a political opinion I could work to effect change, if I discover I am wrong about a hot button issue such as Covid-19 restrictions lives might be saved, and if I discover I am wrong about some aspect in my understanding of who God is, it allows for a relationship with him. In these cases to realize I am wrong should be cause for a celebration!

1 Timothy 1:12-16 NIV

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

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