Well … we had it again. The car conversation.You know. The one that goes a little something like this….

“Hey. Did you see that Lamborghini?!  Man…That thing is so cool. That’s what I’m getting when I grow up.”
“Where?! I missed it.”
“It drove by. Right there. There it goes!”
“Dude – I’m going to drive a Porsche.”
“Oh – that’s great, too.”

This is the conversation from far back seat of my car where TTO and his friend break long enough from their gun conversation (they are enthralled with marksmanship right now) to catch a glimpse of some traffic eye candy – at least to them. Then the Debbie Downer words, “Well, I hope you start working soon to be able to have the kind of money needed to buy a car like that.” actually come out of my mouth — again. I can feel the eye roll.

The friend replies, “Oh, I’m saving. … I may not be able to get the Lamborghini to start with, but I’ve got a good start. My parents told me that they will match whatever I save.”
“Yeah, me too.” pipes in TTO.
“We did?!” I thought, but quickly realized we wouldn’t be matching much – a least up to this point.

They can dream. In fact, isn’t that the beauty of their age?! Crazy dreaming. I remember all the fantasies I sported at that age… the things I needed to make my life complete. A pair of Chic jeans. Some spike healed Candie’s shoes. A cute little BMW 320i. Three Arthur Ashe tennis rackets and a cool bag to carry them in (bringing a bag onto the court in those days was reserved for only the best players). A few Fila or Tacchini outfits to go along with my rackets and bag… Yes – only then would I have arrived. My stuff and properly attired exterior just might even convince me of my inner strength.

I actually owned one Tacchini shirt. I wanted to wear it Day 1 of a tournament, but would save it for good… just in case I made it to the Final so I could look like I belonged. I never had a bag, but did my best to fake it lest someone see my dated back-up racket  made of wood rather than the latest composite metal. It’s so stressful for any teen, fighting to maintain composure amidst the unbearable shifts between normal self worth and intense self doubt.

Oh… it’s all about fitting in. Looking good on the outside. If we could pull it off with everyone else, maybe we might convince ourselves.

If only we stopped doing that in Jr. High. But no. Maybe that’s why our hearts go out to these kids. Because we know exactly where they’re coming from. We’ve all walked into a room and felt those Jr. High fears (the ones centered on things like, “Will I know anyone?”, “Will anyone talk to me?”, “Do I look alright?”…) barrel their way right to the surface as if we were thirteen again.

Living in a fishbowl we tend to look at the outside. We scratch the surface. We stay on the surface and linger on what seems “safe”. We make it about the “What do you do”s, the “Where do you live”s, the “Where did/do you go to school”s, the “Who are your/your kids’ friends”. Do we stop for a minute to go a bit deeper and know that there are feelings, desires, hopes, fears just below that surface… That all the outward stuff does nothing but band-aide what’s so deep inside each one of us … an intense need to be accepted.

We look to the man-made to fill the need. It may not be the idols of old that I read about in the book of Isaiah this morning. The idols that God over and over reminds each person are made by man. The idols that owners want to believe have power … but are nothing more than perishable wood, crushable stone, meltable metal.

Hmmm… just like those cars. Just like those satisfying jobs, the prestigious schools, the rich/well-known/athletic/successful friends. All the man-made hold no candle to the Almighty Creator who breathed life into man, measured the oceans in his hand, knows everything (and tells us about it) before it happens. No … all our stuff, just like the whacky little idols of years past, appears powerful at times. But any perceived power (because that’s all it is) less than pales in comparison to the True Power.

I’m just sayin’.

I guess I should have put a funky philosophical/spiritual alert on this post, in case you were looking for a lighthearted regurgitation of some carpool talk. So, I’ll get back to the car. I let those boys dream. I listened to them “oooh” and “aaahh” and other stuff. Then I came from the left flank and lobbed a few bombs of Truth, “You know, that car won’t be the answer to all you’re problems. In fact it just might cause you more than it solves”, knowing my words won’t sprout any weed free fields. But at least they’re planted.

And maybe I’m reminded along the way, like these kids, of what really matters and who is actually in control. Maybe I might leave my own tendencies to reach for the man-made and choose instead the Living Water that defines acceptance and completely satisfies.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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