My first car was a white 1965 Rambler Classic. If you have never seen one, imagine a refrigerator turned on its side with wheels attached to it. I drove it for my last couple of years of high school and eventually sold it. Then I bought a 72 Buick Riviera, then a 74 Ford Pinto, which was the car I courted Lanette in, and she still married me!
I have owned all kinds of cars over the years: a 66 Lincoln Continental, a 65 Ford Econoline pickup, a series of Mercury Cougars, a 49 Dodge Coronet, a Scion xB (the toaster), and my 68 Mustang. They all have one thing in common, I don’t keep them for very long. As I write this, the Mustang is on Craigslist for sale or trade. I have had it for a couple of years, and it has been fun, but it is time for a new toy.
My wife is an enabler in my car addiction. Well, enabler probably isn’t the right word. She’s really more of a “whatever-abler.” She allows me to buy and sell these fun cars, and when I ask her what she thinks she says, “Whatever you want to do is okay.” She says she’s just glad I don’t trade wives like I do cars.
On September 12th we celebrated our 31st anniversary. I have been with Lanette longer than I have been without her. She has been alongside me through thick and thin, and has always been there when I needed her.
When I tell people that we have been married for 31 years they congratulate me like I won the lottery or something. And in some ways, I guess I have. Proverbs 18:22 says, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD.” Or they will tell me how lucky we are to have found each other. Luck nothing, this had to be God! I first saw her in my grandpa’s church one night, and I happened to ask a woman in the church who Lanette was. Iris told me that Lanette was her niece and introduced us. That was in October of 1980. In September of 1981 she made potentially the worst decision of her life and went through with our marriage.
I would be lying if I told you that every day has been cupcakes and roses. There have been rough days, some days brutally rough. We’ve joked that in 31 years we’ve never thought about divorce. Murder, plenty of times, but never divorce. That’s not true. There were times when the only thing that held us together was our love of God, and our commitment to our kids.
Unfortunately, a lot of people see their relationships the way I see my cars. The attitude seems to be that when you are tired of the person you have, you go searching for the next one. We are swayed by shiny new things. Soon, unfortunately, the shine fades, and we go looking for something shiny again.
The difference is that my cars aren’t devastated when I get rid of them. They don’t have heartaches or pains when they trade owners. They are inanimate objects, so trading them doesn’t hurt. People are far different. When you dump one person to go to another, you tell the other person that they are no longer valuable, that someone else as more worth. It really is the height of selfishness. We decide that what we want is more important than what anyone else wants. Our vows are secondary to our feelings, and our promise to love forever is conditional at best.
In Matthew 5:37 Jesus says, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” It is vital for us to realize that when we take marriage vows they are forever, not just until the shine wears off, or things get tough. All those years ago when I said “Yes, I will” in front of the people in that church, I meant it, and I have lived by it ever since. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been rewarding.
On Friday and Saturday Lanette and I drove around San Diego with no particular agenda. It was enough just to be together. Sorry, but a love that deep and that enduring isn’t born in the back seat of a car, and doesn’t happen when you go running off chasing new shiny things.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, two things will have happened. The Mustang will have sold and I will be on to my next shiny car. And Lanette and I will be further along our road together. I’m hoping the car sells. I know Lanette and I will be together.
Still in love with Lanette and shiny cars… Jerry