I Need a Car!
"Hey, man! Happy 16th!" my friend Derrick* said as he approached my locker. "The mother of all birthdays, right?"
"Yeah, I guess," I said with a shrug.
"Of course it is! Driving equals freedom! Aren't your parents gonna set you up with some wheels?"
"We're still negotiating," I said, fumbling through my locker for my geometry book.
"Well, maybe you ought to talk to Tom about how to work a deal. His parents bought him a brand new silver Lexus, fully loaded."
The geometry book I was holding hit the floor.
"You're kidding!" I exclaimed in disbelief. "How did he swing that?"
"I dunno. But Amber lucked out, too. Her folks got her a two-year-old Jeep Cherokee."
"No way!" I gasped.
"Way!" Derrick said. "Listen, I've gotta get to baseball practice, but if your folks surprise you with a Mustang, let me know!"
Yeah, like that was going to happen.
I gathered my books and headed to the parking lot. As I sat on the curb waiting for Mom to pick me up, I watched my classmates jump in their cars and peel out of the lot, tires screeching. I don't know why—I guess to torture myself—I started counting up all my friends with cars: Amber, Tom, Justin, Luke, Karen, Troy … The list was endless. It seemed everyone had something to drive. I, on the other hand, had an old, rusty bike and a promise from Mom that I could use the Dodge minivan whenever I wanted to pick up groceries for the family.
On the drive (well, ride) home I once again bugged Mom about getting my own car.
"I don't care if it's a clunker," I said. "Just something to get around town."
"We've been over this, Ryan," Mom replied. "Your dad and I have prayed about this and tried to find a way, but with both your brother and sister in college right now, we just can't afford it."
"What if I paid half?" I asked.
"Honey, it's not possible right now. Maybe when you're a senior we can get you something."
That seemed like a million years away. How would I survive two whole years of watching my buddies flaunt their freedom? And two years of hitching rides from friends without ever returning the favor? I didn't want to be the annoying guy who was always asking, "Can you give me a lift?"
That night I called my brother Matthew at college to talk about how unfair my life was.
"It's true," he agreed. "It's not fair. When I turned 16, I got the old van. And Lauren drove the Ford Focus around during most of high school. I'm sure Mom and Dad feel bad about not having an extra car for you."
"Yeah, I know," I said. "It's just hard having it rubbed in my face that I'm the only one without wheels."
"Try shifting your perspective," Matthew suggested. "Your friends may have easy transportation, but look at all you've got."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Well, first off, you've got an awesome older brother," he said with a chuckle, then continued. "Seriously, God has blessed you with a family who may be lacking in funds but who makes up for it in love and support. You know we've all got your back, Ry. If there was something that you really needed, medically or whatever, we would get it for you. God would help us find a way."