Thursday, August 8, 2013

The last lesson my car taught me

Um, this is kind of weird to start writing about, but it's also important, and yeah. I'll start where I can and stop where I will.

This is one of the posts about my first car, and it was the last lesson that the Suzuki taught me.

I say 'last' because back in June, I broke it. Badly broke it. Like, it's not coming back, broke it.

And it was my fault.

I guess this means different levels of thing to different people. But we'd had that car since Hannam Vale (So, at least 2001), and Dad had looked after it. She went alright, and even when Dad bought a different car, he didn't sell the Suzy. It was lent to a couple of different people, and each driver added their own level of attachment to the vehicle. It was unregistered for a while, and Dad had people asking more than once, if he was planning to sell it, seeing as it had sat in our front yard, untouched, for a couple years. But he never did.

I first started regularly driving the Suzuki at the end of 2010, when I got a job that meant I needed to be driving a car that wasn't Mum's while she was at work. She was a tetchy thing to get used to driving, but we got on alright. The Suzuki was a 1989 Swift GTi model; built as a sports car. Highly strung; usually pretty difficult to drive if you weren't used to it. It'd be difficult to start in cold mornings, or on any morning, really.

Back at the start of uni, I took the Suzy to Newcastle. This was back when my housemate still lived in the house, and before she was able to drive, so I did driving for both of us frequently. Nothing bonds people and a car like losing it and thinking it was stolen in a car park.

And from there I gradually just got more and more attached to the car. She was difficult sometimes, because she was an old car, but Dad loved it and I loved it, and it was something of a family heirloom.

And then I did something stupid.

This was like a squire riding their father's warhorse out for the day and breaking its leg. It was like if Batman, still in his early days of being batman, through some fool maneuver, got Alfred killed.

I still have no idea whether or not I checked at the give way sign, but I was on a minor road of a T-intersection on a rainy day in Newcastle back in June, and I hit someone else.

Y'all can calm down a little; I didn't hurt anyone, and I emerged shell-shocked, but unscathed.

Shock erased anything I could remember of the event to prove that I had looked before entering the give way section, and the fallout of that was that I was in the wrong of the accident.

I had broken the car that was Dad's pretty, and my pretty, and Sam's pretty (Sam was one of the lads who'd driven the car in the interim years). I'd been told to look after it, and

and evidently I haven't gotten over all of this yet. Guilt takes time. The fault is still mine though, and I have a bit of a hangup over it.


There was a lesson learned. Let me tell you it.


Or rather, I began to appreciate grace a whole lot more.

See, I've known of and understood grace for a while. To a degree.

My Mum and Dad are both Christians, and they raised me and my siblings to understand the wonder that comes with having a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. But even from a young age, they taught me the value of grace. They're both like sixth-generation Salvation Army kids (Okay so Dad's only three generations, not sure about Mum). Well, they came from Salvation Army stock.

And I'm not up for debating a whole bunch of things right now, but when we left the Salvation Army, Mum made sure that I understood grace properly. That I understood that it's not the things we do that make us right; that following the laws wouldn't be enough to repair a broken relationship with God. We needed Jesus, and we needed to understand that he offered a way to get into a right relationship with God, without doing stuff.

That it was a gift.

That it was a grace.

And I'd known this for a long time. Been taught it for a long time.

But it wasn't until I was dealing with a written-off car, and being in the wrong, and trying to figure out whether my demerit points will carry over when I get my full license, that I realised the value of grace.

I think you can appreciate the value of something in one of two different ways.

You can understand how important it is when you come from not having it and then having it,
and you can understand how important it is when you have it and then it is taken away, or you have to deal with something without its aid.

That's not to say that I didn't want the law to be nullified - certainly not. If the law was nullified, then there'd be no justice. A world with no justice is a scary thought for me. We need justice. Without justice, things that go wrong get unpunished, victims are left to their broken lives and society, without stability, caves in.

Justice is important.

So I understood with incredible clarity why it was I was in the wrong over my accident. And why it was that someone had to be at fault. It's pretty rare that cars go and crash themselves.

It's just that I didn't want to be the one at fault. I wanted grace. I didn't want the law to be broken for my sake, but I also didn't want to be the one to have to deal with being in the wrong.

It was actually an incredible paradox, and at the same time a perfectly clear truth. Perfectly clear lesson. Painfully illustrated in screeching brakes and deformed metal, laid to rest clad in TARDIS blue.


It was painful to learn, and beautiful at the same time. And I hope that I never take the lesson of grace so for granted again that I have to learn this one over.

Grace abounded more when Dad found my new car; a Festiva. It's a gelding compared to the stallion that was the Swift, but I'm incredibly thankful for it. Not having wheels is something you can get around if you live in the middle of Newcastle, or if you have housemates with cars, but when you have neither of these things, even getting the groceries is a challenge.

Meet the incredibly tidy Daiko Bubbles. I'll be sure to post about it in the future. And about the Swift too.

But I think that's about as much talking as I can manage about the cars for now. I'll go back to aimlessly surfing the web in the art gallery, and listening to Explosions in the Sky.

Seriously. Go look them up if you like post-rock, or like forty minutes of absolutely radical instrumental music.

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