As a progressive Christian hipster, I have a secret shame: I love cars. And, not little, good-for-the-planet cars like the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. No, I like big, honking loud V-8’s, the kind with enough power to peel your eyelids back. I love sexy Italian sports cars, precise German driving machines and crazy, over the top American muscle cars. It’s not my fault, though. I grew up in the southeastern United States in the 60’s and 70’s. To put a finer point on it, I spent my formative years just south of Greensboro, North Carolina not too many miles from the Level Cross community. Level Cross is important for one reason and one reason only: it’s the home of Petty Enterprises. And, this was back in the days when Richard was earning his title as “The King”. Being that close to NASCAR royalty took an already car-crazy culture to new heights. The only way they could’ve gotten higher is if I had lived in Charlotte or Daytona.
Lest you think it odd that I relate all this on what passes for a religious blog, I do so for context. You see, being a car nut, one of my favorite shows is Overhaulin’, which ran for several seasons on The Learning Channel. On the show, car designer Chip Foose led a team of mechanics, bodymen and interior people who would, with help of family members and friends, hijack some deserving person’s classic car and customize it in seven days. I like the show for several reasons. Besides the fact that there are almost always some really cool cars and some really cool stuff being to those cars, someone who had given a lot to others got something back. The best part of the show is always the reveal, when the mark sees his (or her) newly restored and customized car for the first time. More than once, I’ve seen big, tough-looking guys reduced to tears when they realized what everyone had done for them. Sure, it’s drama, but it’s good drama. Amidst all that, however, there’s one thing that bugs me. It’s what they always say to the mark before they show them the car: “Are you ready for your life to change?” Really? A car is going to change your life? I suppose I could see that if you didn’t have one and were in desperate need of transportation. But, the cars on Overhaulin’ transcend mere transportation; they’re an art form (I told you love cars) and, in reality, a luxury. Much as I love them, I don’t think they qualify for life-changing status.
The use of the phrase “life-changing”, in whatever form, has gotten a little out of hand. It seems that every day, I’m hearing someone talk about a life-changing event of some kind. There’s a problem here, though. Through constant overuse, “life-changing” has lost its oomph. I mean, if your life changes every freakin’ day, after a while, it’s really no big deal. I think we should reserve that term for times that…, well, change your life. I’ve had a few life-changing moments, like realizing I wanted to be a firefighter, or when my daughters were born. But the most important one was when I quit screwing around trying to get through life on my own and came back to God. I’d “gotten saved” when I was about ten years old and had about as much awareness of what I was doing as a mouse does when he goes after the cheese in the trap. In my teens and twenties, I drifted away from God. Partly because of some things that happened involving religion, but also because I thought I didn’t need Him. I flirted with coming back when Rachel was born, and several times after that over several years. But, I only did when things got so bad that I couldn’t fool myself anymore; I needed help, the kind that only comes from God. I won’t say it’s been easy, because it hasn’t. There have been more than a few setbacks along the way. But I can honestly say this: as much as I love cars, that particular moment did something a piece of machinery never could; it actually changed my life