(A Journey of a Leap of Faith)
It’s been a bit of strange month here in good ol’ OKC. I can sense a crossroads up ahead and I am not sure yet which way to go. I have enjoyed living in Oklahoma and am thankful and grateful to all the friends I’ve made here who have helped it feel like home. I’ve learned a great many things in my year here- how much I enjoy not having upstairs/downstairs neighbors, controlling your heat (so you can turn it on some random chilly morning instead of shivering through your shower since it’s not cold enough for the heat to kick in strong enough to travel up to the 3rd floor radiators in your apt.) is awesome, living in a place where you are called “ma’am” and doors opened breeds politeness and peace and not having to write “one thousand” before the rest of the amount for your rent check is still something I can’t believe.
Yet there is a flip side. Oklahoma in some ways is like the 1960’s. I’ve had people assume I’m married and when they find out I am not, they then ask if I have kids (I think to see if I am divorced), initially assume the traveling I have done is on account of the fact I married a military man and refer to any man I date as “my man” within 3 dates of my meeting him. I, on the other hand, marvel at the 25 year olds parents with 2 children, have dated men who are divorced with kids and in their early 30’s and been frustrated at the trend of co-dependency here.
It’s also been a helluva month in other ways. Among other things (including the return of The Shingles (OUCH)) I had nearly $700 in unexpected expenses show up. The other day I dutifully printed off a coupon for a budget friendly oil change at Jiffy Lube. Boy, was I wrong.
Jiffy Lube was quite a friendly bunch (although I did become slightly on guard when the young guy checking me in heard my Irish name and began unbuttoning his work shirt to show me his Irish family crest he had tattooed on his upper chest). After exclaiming over the miles on my 10 year old car (196,000+ here is looking at you), I was politely escorted into the office to wait while they worked on my car.
As I sat, mouth breathing so as not to inhale the smell of gas and oil that seemed to saturate the air, an older gentleman limping and using a cane came and sat diagonally across from me. As we exchanged friendly nods in greeting, the mechanic walked out into the office carrying something in his hand.
“Do you know what this is?” the mechanic asked me.
I took it in for a moment. “A bird’s nest?” I guessed.
“No, your air filter.”
And it just went downhill from there.
As I watched the estimate for my car climb from the expected $20 with a coupon to over $100, I could tell the mechanic could read the tension tightening my face. He very kindly explained to me he could give me 30% off but under no circumstances could he in good conscience just shake off my air filter and return it to my car and I agreed to have it replaced. He left to complete the job and the older gentleman smiled at me in commiseration.
“You made the right choice you know,” he said kindly. He told me how he had waited to replace something on his car and ultimately it ended up costing him $400.
“Wish I had those $400 for groceries,” he said wistfully. “But you know, God is good and He provides.” I nodded in agreement and he reinforced his point, quoting some Scripture to back it up.
We chit chatted about in-consequent things and from what he did and didn’t say, I could tell the man did not have much. I handed him my card and told him if he ever knew of anyone who needed something to give me a call as my company has over 30 social services programs available.
“Oh, thank you for your kindness ma’am. God always does provide like I said,” he smiled and launched into a bit of sermon–esque monologue on God’s goodness and faithfulness.
“You know your Bible well,” I commented to him while the New York trained part of me sent its radar up, wondering if I was about to have a religious fanatic break loose.
“Oh yes, I do,” He replied, smiling. “I used to be minster when I was younger.”
Before I could respond, the mechanic walked back in.
“Mrs. Flynn, we’ve your bill ready for you,” he called out, turning to look at me.
I benignly smiled. “Miss,” I replied.
He looked flummoxed.
As I gathered my purse and walked to the register, he had recovered enough to ask a question I can only assume he may have meant as a compliment.
“Why aren’t you married, girl?”
“Well, there are a few reasons,” I replied as politely as I could. “1. I was smart enough to not marry any of my exes 2. I haven’t met the right person yet and isn’t that the best reason to not be? (I heard the older gentleman laugh softly in agreement behind me) and 3. Respectfully- where I come from, nobody but nobody gets married as young as you people do.”
As the mechanics eyes widened and he laughed, the gentleman behind me spoke up,
“Good for you. Those are perfect reasons to not be married. As you know and as the Bible says in Psalm 37:4 ‘take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’.
I turned around to face the man, startled. He sat, suddenly looking as together as I had seen him thus far, looking right at me with a half smile on his face as if he realized the impact of his words. His smile widened and he repeated the verse again. The mechanic pushed my receipt towards me and as I turned around to sign it, I felt a bit flustered.
Over the past couple of months as these crossroads have drawn closer and I’ve had a few soul searches, this verse kept returning to my mind again and again and it spoke deeply to my heart about where I was at and what I need to do. To have this man, on a day and week which had not been the best for me, quote it to me and in the context in which he did, really hit me.
I finished signing my receipt, thanked the mechanic, said goodbye to the older man reminding him to use my card if he had a need and walked outside towards my car. As I opened the driver door, I heard the garage’s door swing open.
“Miss,” I looked up and the older gentleman was standing, somewhat awkwardly, near my car.
“Yes?” I smiled politely.
He moved his cane forward and leaned on it heavily as if his left leg hurt but the smile stayed on his face. His next words hit me like a ton of bricks and have stayed with me since then as encouragement as I look ahead to the future. I don’t think his word choice was accidental and I believe people are sent into your life as messengers when you need clarity most.
“I can tell you’re someone who’s been following what it is God wants you to be doing with your life and I just wanted to say…”
Here he paused and, straightening himself up, looked me right in the eye.
“Keep the faith, sister.”