I’ve been reminded allot recently of the concept of maintenance… the “good” kinds that have to do with health – mentally, physically, spiritually – that making sure your systems are functioning well and properly! But also the actual “stuff” kind – the demands of maintenance that comes with flashing red lights on the dashboard – telling us that attention needs to be paid, attention to the details that will keep things going. *Now for those of you who are car-savvy and faithful with the EVERY 3,000 miles oil change, you hate seeing this picture, because it is an actual photo of my dashboard. You’re gonna tell me that I MUST take care of my car and that I must do it now! Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that the more care and attention I pay to those little flashing lights on my dashboard, the longer it’ll last, the more fully it’ll function, the better it’ll run for me – I just haven’t taken time to actually pay attention to it and so something about it to fully fix the issue. Yes I’ve put gas in the car and yes, I’ve checked and changed the oil.
As I’ve been thinking about my car and it’s need for maintenance, (which I HAVE taken care of), I’m reminded of how much more our lives demand that attention to details and that it has its own set of warning lights. So the past few weeks I’ve been wondering how many times I’ve seen (or felt) that “check your oil” light or “you must fill the gas tank” light come on? How many times have I seen (or felt) that and pushed it aside, or put a piece of tape over that light – saying I’d address it later or it’s not really that big of a deal?! (Obviously there’s a point when you MUST pay attention or you’ll be sitting on the side of the road waiting for AAA, some other service or your Dad to come rescue?)
So in those moments —- waiting for rescue — do we think, “I should’ve paid attention…” or “I was planning to… just didn’t have the time…” Do we race around each day doing the “musts” and “have to’s” ignoring the warning lights — which tell us to slow down, to be intentional with those relationships in our lives that NEED (and/or deserve) our attention, above all other things that scream for our attention? I’ve realized that the longer the light on my dash board stays on the less I pay attention to it! Yes, it’s pesky and I’m often annoyed by it – thinking I need to address it, but it’s soooo inconvenient to schedule an appointment and rearrange my schedule and ask for help from someone and then there’s the expense…. but I wonder how much longer my little PT Cruiser will function, well, if at all, if I don’t pay attention and address whatever the issues (whether large or small) that’s causing the warning?!
So if you know anything about (my) writing – or at least have the ability to read between the lines, you know this blog really isn’t about my oil or gas light being on or general car maintenance… the issue is much deeper!
As I’ve thought about my car… and what I’m needing to do to take care of the issues the warning lights are pointing to, I’ve been thinking about my current life warning lights. I know there have been and are, “check oil”, “check engine” and fill-the-gas-tank lights going on and off, and some of them for years! There are lights that I’ve seen in the past few weeks/year that I’ve recognized and have addressed and that light is no longer illuminated. Then there are the lights that have come on, have stayed on and quite possibly will remain until I intentionally address, invest, correct and replace. *Yes — I could pop the hood and pull the wires that cause the lights to be on, but in the end — my not addressing the issue will have me sitting on the side of the road awaiting rescue from whomever is willing to step into that mess with me.) There are times when the warning light (on the dashboard) is a sign of a huge issue – which will cost way more than we’d planned or ever wanted to pay but in the end causes a smoother ride and is fully functioning. In the same way, there are times when the warning lights in our lives is a sign of a deep-rooted, messy and not-fun-to-deal-with issue… and dealing with it is costly, time consuming and altering, but just like the car — it can and normally results in a smoother – healthier – more enjoyable ride (aka LIFE)!
This is a season for me that I’m intentionally popping the hood. I’m watching for the warning lights – and checking the warnings that show up. I’m asking questions, pulling parts, replacing and paying the cost to fix, not just ignore the warnings.
So are you taking time to pay attention to the dashboard warning lights? Those warning lights may be for you to slow down physically? To stop filling the schedule with STUFF. To start being intentional with relationships – ones you’re in or want to be in. To set time aside for family. To give time to friends who need someone to step into the messiness of life with them? Whatever the warnings — those lights mean something… don’t just ignore them or put a piece of tape over them — because in the end, the work – the cost and that maintenance is far better than sitting down the road, needing rescue!