RLL 47: Mel's Mustang

Real Life Leading #47: Mel’s Mustang

This past week my wife made a surprise trip to Pensacola, Florida, to go see a couple of friends of our who were there. Because it was a short-notice thing, our friends paid for Mel to rent a car, and the only car available at this particular rental place (after the first place had no cars available) was a beautiful, almost brand-new 2018 Ford Mustang convertible…and MAN, was I jealous! Time for a little backstory…

Twenty years ago, my first car was a 1968 Ford Mustang. I’m not a ‘car guy’, familiar with all different makes and models and engine types; but I love Mustangs, and I always have. I also haven’t driven one since I sold mine right after my older daughter was born fourteen years ago. So when Mel got the opportunity to drive one to Florida, I will fully admit I was mostly just jealous.

 Mel wasn’t at all sorry about getting to drive this car! Unfortunately, it looked like the weather might not cooperate with the convertible.

Mel wasn’t at all sorry about getting to drive this car! Unfortunately, it looked like the weather might not cooperate with the convertible.

Thankfully, that only lasted for a few minutes, because of something that happened in my brain and something Mel said: first, God reminded me that because I love Mustangs, I should be happy that my wife also gets to experience the awesomeness of driving one. And second, almost as if on cue, my wife smiled and me and said, “Would you like to drive it to the interstate to see me off before I go?” Would I?!? So I got to drive the Mustang. And it.was.glorious!

What’s the point of all of this? The point is twofold: first, that our mindset makes a tremendous difference in our reaction to things in life; and second, that the stories we tell ourselves shape what we believe about our circumstances.

If we constantly choose to focus on the negatives, we will quickly become overwhelmingly negative people. The truth is, if you’re reading this blog on a phone or computer or other device, you live in a place that has better technology than most of earth, and you have access to that technology, as do I. We have more access to food, healthcare, and shelter than most people who have ever existed. And, unfortunately, we too often forget that and need to be reminded of it.

 I’m glad she even got to put the top down after the weather cleared up!

I’m glad she even got to put the top down after the weather cleared up!

During the summer of 2001, I spent three weeks on a mission trip to Honduras, most of it in a village with no electricity or running water. The people I met there were the most generous people I’ve ever met in my life, even though they were also the poorest in terms of material goods and ease-of-life. As a result of that trip, when I came home, I was more aware of the tremendous blessings we have. For example, after three weeks of using barrel-caught rainwater and a hollow gourd for bathing, I was thankful for hot, running water and access to a variety of food. These sound like simple things, but they shouldn’t be taken for granted.

By the way, the friends that Mel went to Florida to see? The reason they were there is because they had twins born twelve weeks early, and those babies had been in the NICU since the summer. Mel was meeting our friends in Florida so that the parents could both ride home together in the van with their kids (they also have a toddler), while Mel drove their other car back to Birmingham. After over three months in the NICU, the babies were on their first trip home. Their parents were filled with joy, and we’re glad Mel was able to help them out. As for me, you better believe that whenever I think of what they’ve been through, I hug my daughters a little tighter. I hope you all will do the same today.

Action Step: Today, make a brief list, mental or on paper, of things that you have to be thankful for. Then encourage someone around you to do the same, and see how it lifts your spirits and your hearts.