I am in mourning over selling my red Jeep.
It is incredibly petty and I feel guilty even writing the words. I have friends and parishioners who are in the midst of grief over losing a loved one. I’m not comparing my red Jeep to those more legitimate losses. I, too, have lost loved ones and what I’m feeling about the Jeep is not like that at all. So let me start by saying that I know that losing a favorite vehicle is not like losing something of true substance. Loss takes many shapes, though, and while some can devastate us, others just bum us out for a little while. So this post is really about the latter.
I haven’t had my red Jeep for very long. I got it on the 4th of July weekend of 2010. I had been actively searching for a Jeep since my other car, a Saturn, was on its last leg. I came across the Jeep in Pine Mountain, sitting across from the pharmacy. In fact, I bought it from one of the pharmacists. I had always wanted a Jeep and this one was absolutely perfect. Low mileage, great price, it was exactly what I sought.
In the few years I owned it, a few really great memories stand out. Tai and I drove to Camp Mikell, then over to Tennessee with the top off in 2011. I remember him sitting in the back with his head down trying to dodge the wind. I remember taking many people for a ride in the red Jeep for the first time: my nephew Bennet who would have bought it from me if he wasn’t 6 years old, Liz Dixon as we rode out to Zion and bought a glass-bottled Coke at the gas station, and taking Molly on more than a few dates in it. I’ll miss Grey shouting “REDJEEP!” whenever he saw any color Jeep on the road. I remember getting stuck in the torrential rain with only the bikini top on it in Columbus and arriving for a meeting at St. Thomas completely soaked to the bone. I was mostly in it alone, listening to podcasts and music, be-bopping through Harris County.
The only reason I feel I need to sell it is because it is really not conducive to my life. For the amount of driving I do, it gets horrible gas mileage. The kids can’t fit in it. I tried towing our camper with it, but that has proven to be a challenge. The lack of air conditioning in the Georgia summer is really hard and never knowing if I should take off the hard top or keep it on has been a challenge. So it is time to move on. I know that. I’m rather surprised by my reaction to selling it. I got it all cleaned up last weekend, posted it on Craigslist, and then felt terrible. Molly suggested it’s because we bought a truck to replace it and it feels like I’m two-timing the Jeep.
Molly has recognized one aspect of myself that I never really noticed. I’m fiercely loyal to things. If I find a pair of shoes I like, when they wear out, I will try to find a new pair that is exactly like the old ones. I tend to be a brand loyalist: Apple computers, Levi’s jeans, Keen shoes, Taylor guitars, Marvel comics, you get the idea. So I can add Jeep to that list, and while I am extremely happy about driving a vehicle with windows that roll down, A/C in the summer, tow package, and seating for six, there’s still something about that red Jeep that I’m really going to miss.
I guess we all grieve our “stuff.” I truly believe God wants me to be free of such attachments to material items, and maybe my feelings around the red Jeep are a reflection of me working on that challenge. I know a Jeep can’t provide real happiness, only God can do that. But I do believe it’s “meet and right so to do” to be honest about feelings surrounding times when you struggle with such things. People lose their favored things every day. Churches have split because of attachment to organs, pews, altars, walls, paintings, and thousands of other things. For those who argue in defense of such material things, they are losing something, and we should all recognize that and give them a chance to articulate their grief over it instead of telling them to “stuff it.”
I imagine as we see some changes at St. Nicholas in the coming months during the new building construction, some of those feelings may surface. Some have already expressed grief to me over their expectation that we’re not building what they thought we were. Those feelings of disappointment and grief are OK. I get it.
So now I’m not feeling all that guilty about confessing that I will miss my red Jeep. In fact, now that I have, I feel a lot better.
See, grieving our losses openly really does work.