It was a few months after I turned sixteen when the golden day came. After a lifetime of anticipation, it finally happened —
I got my driver’s license.
And a car. (Shoutout to the ‘rents!) I was free. Suddenly, I could go to my best friend’s house or meet the squad for ice cream anytime I wanted. I also didn’t have to wait for my parents to pick me up after school anymore. Talk about independence.
When I first started driving, I thought I was invincible. I would fly down the road in my little Toyota Camry, blasting music and feeling like the coolest kid around. I would swing into any parking spot, never doubting that I would be able to fit and make it out like a getaway driver.
This one got me into trouble.
One day after school, I hopped in my car with my Christmas pajamas (it was pajama day — the icing on the cake). I had pulled through, and was facing the car line for the parents. I thought there was surely enough space for my car to turn out of the spot and slide past the parents’ cars.
Only there wasn’t.
I misjudged my turn and scraped my car against my friend Angelica’s car. Not just a little scrape, either. I made it alllllllll the way down the left side of my car. Then, it dawned on me that my car was a little too close to hers. Somehow, I didn’t hear or feel a thing until that moment. It was a very graceful scrape.
I was about to call my friend and explain what had happened, when I saw her walk out of the school with a confused look on her face.
She was in for a surprise.
We examined the damage. Thankfully, her car wasn’t damaged at all (a miracle from above). My car, however, had a huge dent brushed with a million little black scrapes. It was quite the masterpiece, if you ask me.
When I drove home and explained what had happened to my parents, they were very forgiving. But, being that the damage would cost about two grand to fix, they decided it wasn’t smart to get it fixed.
Fast forward to the present (four years later), and I’m still driving my lovely Camry, dent and all.
For a while, I was really embarrassed by it. It was like driving around with a big label saying this girl does not know how to drive. Or park.
I tried to figure out ways to save up enough money to get it fixed, or get a new car. Every time I came up with a plan, I decided I would much rather use that money to go on a cool trip or something. Not that I’m very good at budgeting in the first place.
So, I let it go. I learned to embrace the imperfection.
For some reason, anytime I meet someone new, my car dent story is often one of the first stories I tell them. I figure they’re going to find out at some point, so I should probably prepare them.
If I forget to prepare them, it’s an excellent conversation starter when I roll up.
You know what? I’ve learned that people love that story.
It shows that I’m human. I’m broken. I make mistakes.
I tend to think people will like me better if they think I’m perfect. I try to make sure my hair isn’t too frizzy and my clothes are in style. I try to get perfect grades, do lots of cool things, volunteer, always say the right things, and get lots of likes on Instagram.
I end up living like I’m walking on a tight rope. And I fall off a lot.
In reality, people don’t like that girl as much as the real me. The real me who is always running late, has an offbeat sense of humor, and can’t remember if she wore the same t-shirt the last time she saw you. The real me who gets cranky when she doesn’t get enough sleep and sometimes can’t stop laughing about something that happened months ago. In the middle of class.
The real me who has a very dented car.
I’ve also learned that the Lord likes the real me the best.
He can’t use me when I’m not being real with Him. He can’t be close to me when I’m putting on a show. He just wants me to be real. Only then can He help me fix the messes I make.
He loves to hear our stories of brokenness, because those are the stories that reveal our weakness and magnify His strength.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your dents.
I’m willing to bet they’d make the best stories.