People are More Important Than Things

I am forever thankful to my friend Craig and an unnamed roommate who helped me to understand that I had to choose whether I loved people or things more.

I purchased my first car on a Thursday afternoon and proceeded to drive it to where my house church was meeting.  Right after the meeting ended my friend Craig asked if he could borrow my car. There was a young lady who lived 10 miles away who needed to get home soon.  Craig wanted to talk with her, and if he didn’t drive her, it was going to be several weeks before they would get their next chance.

This was my new car. I had only driven it about a mile. I wanted to drive it.  On the other hand, I had been carless for a couple of years and had roommates loan me their cars. I was grateful for their kindness and felt it wouldn’t be right to refuse my friend.  I handed him my key and joined a conversation with someone who lived in the house we were meeting in.

When the conversation ended, I realized that everyone  had headed to a restaurant / bar we would frequent after the meeting.  I wouldn’t be able to join them and had to walk around 3 miles back to my home.  I was pretty grumpy. A couple of hours later my roommates started to return from the restaurant having clearly enjoyed the time hanging out with each other. I was really starting to regret loaning Craig my car.  I was thinking “It’s fine to share, but it was foolish to loan out my car.  Look what I missed out on.”

Then a phone call came.  It was Craig.  He told me he has been in an accident. This was believable.  We used to say that the strongest evidence that guardian angels exist is that Craig had never been in an accident. I wanted to scream “You crashed my new car?  I only got to drive it one mile before you destroyed it?!”, but I didn’t. I was relieved that Craig was calling me rather than  police officer showing up to report Craig’s death or severe injury.  I had lost a friend less than a year earlier to a tragic traffic accident.

I clamped down my anger and the words  “Are you ok?  Where are you? Do you need us to pick you up?” spilled out of my mouth.  Craig told me that he could get home.  The left front quarter panel was damaged, but he was able to pull it away from the wheel so he could drive it home.  I said “Thank God you are ok.  That’s the most important thing. Get home and we can figure out next steps later.” 

As the phone call ended one my roommates said in a self satisfied voice “That’s why I don’t loan my car to others.”

In that instant I knew I was at a crossroad.

I had the example of several of my roommates  who had freely shared their cars with me.  I respected their character and saw how they cared for others. They were people I admired and wanted to be like.  They were willing to take the risk of their things being damaged.  Then there was this other roommate. His life was characterized by selfishness. He protected all his possessions and wasn’t willing to share. He was a negative role model. Someone who I didn’t want to be like.

Without thinking I said  “And that’s why I am going to continue to loan my car out.”  Thankfully I stopped my outburst before I finish my thought  “because I don’t want to be a selfish #$^!% like you” and he didn’t catch how condescending I was toward him in that moment.

From that day on I committed to care more about people than my things. That when I loaned things out to do it with the mindset that I was giving the item away.  So if it was damaged or not returned I would be ok, and if it came back in good shape I could rejoice.

Craig wasn’t in an accident. He thought it was a funny prank.  When I learned my car was ok I was tempted to kill Craig, but decided to forgive him, and to be thankful that I had learned a valuable life lesson. For several years Craig as embarrassed by his prank… to which I tell him I am ever so grateful he did it. In the years since that incident I continue to loan things to Craig 🙂

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