Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
-Proverbs 18:24, MSG
In 2010, my mother gifted me with a very dark blue 1995 BMW 525i, whom I affectionately call, “Blue Betty.” Blue Betty and I have been through some adventures. From the start, it was clear that she didn’t like extreme cold weather. Having been in the South all her life, when I brought her up here in December 2010, she let me know without hesitation that this relationship was going to be one of adjustments. Over the past seven years, Blue Betty has been mainly reliable, but there have been times when I’ve been stranded.
On Tuesday night, the coldest night of the season, after leaving a church meeting, Blue Betty gave one last protest. My deacon had come to my car to get an item that I had borrowed. Because it was so cold, I gave her a ride to her car, which was in the church’s parking garage. So, when I made my way home, I was riding in front of my deacon. As soon as we got on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near the exit where we usually went in two different directions, my tire went flat. I managed to get to the shoulder and my deacon, who usually leaves me behind because I drive so slowly at night, pulled in front of me. She got in the passenger side and said, “I saw your car smoking and decided to follow you for a bit.” Thank God for smoking tires.
I was so grateful because usually, I am all alone when Blue Betty has a temper tantrum. Because of finances, I had to let go of AAA, so it was only God that ensured that my deacon was there to use her membership to help me. Otherwise, I would have probably had to walk to National Harbor because her phone was dead. So, even if I had called her, she would not have been able to help me. But, she was there and before I knew it, my car was being towed to a mechanic.
Afterwards, as my deacon was giving me a ride home, I shared with her some of my adventures with Blue Betty. I told her how God protected me and my car, even though it has not locked since 2014. I told her how many times I found favor with tow truck drivers and strangers.
As I was writing this blog post, I thought of how many times I’ve almost lost control of the car because of what I now know is a problem with the suspension system, but that God always kept me and the other drivers on the road. I thought about the many places I’ve been stranded, especially in North Carolina, when a good family friend had to load my car onto his eighteen-wheeler to take it to be repaired. I thought about how many times I’ve been to the worst DC neighborhoods, yet my unlocked car was not stolen. I thought about how many times I’ve not been able to afford parking but my car didn’t get a ticket. I thought about how many times my tank has been almost empty, but God has gotten me to and from places on fumes.
Yet, the moment the mechanic gave me the estimate for the repairs that would make the car safe to drive again, I knew it was time that Blue Betty retire. I could feel it in my spirit, like a bitter-sweet goodbye between good friends who have gotten through the misunderstandings and hurt feelings to become stronger and better. I’ve beat up on Blue Betty with bumps and bruises to her exterior while Blue Betty has beat up on me by leaving me stranded because of injuries to her 22-year old, 165K mileage organs. She has been faithful as an old car can be, even though frail and sometimes fickle. I’ve had my love-hate moments; yet, I always remained optimistic about her.
From up and down I-95, I-66, I-495, I-395, I-295, I-16, I-85, I-75, and I-285, from up and down south to around the DMV, Blue Betty has died several times, been towed by everything from pickup trucks to eighteen wheelers, and has refused to let me down its windows or lock its doors for most of its life while I owned her. But, all things considered, I’ve learned a lot from Blue Betty. She has taught me to remain humble, to value the little things more, and to accept help from strangers who sometimes have been angels in disguise. But, alas, Blue Betty has decided that she wants nothing more to do with cold winters and hot summers in concrete urban environments. However, I am forever grateful for the blessing that God has been through this car.
As I think of Blue Betty, I think of how God has been through thick and thin with us; yet, God never fails. While Blue Betty and her other car colleagues don’t live forever, God does. While Blue Betty is never 100% reliable, God is. While Blue Betty doesn’t like to go to extremes, God has, does, and will go to any length to love us unconditionally.
So, as I say goodbye to Blue Betty, I am grateful to God has been my mode of physical and spiritual transportation my whole life. I am looking forward to the next adventure with God, even if it keeps me on public transportation for a while. I trust God to show up in every moment; for, God has always been the friend who sticks closer than all others.