Deep gratitude and bad diagnoses

I never thought I’d hear myself say, “thank you, God, for my bad catalytic converter!” And actually mean it. With my whole heart.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t groan when the “check engine” light comes on in their car. “Oh, no, baby, you’re fine,” we all croon, hoping it was just a fluke. Did I brake too fast? It must be an error. There’s nothing wrong. PLEASE. NOTHING WRONG.

I was starting to feel like if my mechanic had punch cards I’d be my way to a free repair. But that’s not really the way car repairs work.

No, even though my mechanic is honest and wonderful, whenever I go in for a repair I always leave trying to catch my breath. We had to do it. It’s good. That’s only like what I make in 20 hours of work this time. It could have been worse. Just breathe.

I was prepared to do that song and dance again today. He’d told me that the light was telling us something was up with the catalytic system (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? I don’t), and if we were lucky, it’d be the oxygen sensor, maybe a couple hundred to replace. We hope it’s that because the catalytic converter would be way more buckeroos.

I decided to go with the best-case scenario. It would be the cheap thing that would be wrong, and it would not feel cheap but would be worth it to not have to replace the catalytic converter.

So I went in today on my afternoon off, ready to sit while they replaced my oxygen sensor. I lose a couple hours and a couple hundred dollars. Breathe. It could be worse.

But then he came out and said, “Ashley, I have bad news.”

I could see myself opening a window and pouring out my hard-earned dollars onto the streets below. “Here, who wants some? It’s just money. Have a handful. My car is making me go broke anyway.”

God works in mysterious ways. Oh wait, no, let’s rephrase that. God does freaking weird things that often look like a bad situation but totally flips them on their head so it’s the best. Says the same thing but sounds less dreamy. This is weird stuff.

“I’m not going to recommend we fix it now. You might have a year before it goes out completely, and you’ll know when that happens.”

Wait, so… no repairs?

“And I’m not going to charge you for a full hour. That was only twenty minutes.”

He basically told me that my car is worth more to me than anyone else, so I should drive it until it dies and not put big bucks into it at this point.

So, sort of harrowing news, but it means I have margin. I can save. I can plan! I can look forward to buying a car sort of on my own timetable instead of pouring money into this one… and still having to buy one in a year or two.

In the oddest circumstances, a reason for deep gratitude. I’ve had a few moments like that in the past month, where just a little bit got shaved off a total or ended up being right what I could spend. And there have been moments of extreme peace where I knew I didn’t need to buy that thing that really seemed like I might need it… or I didn’t need it right then.

Here’s the testimony: God takes care of me. Here’s just another example in a line-up of many. I have a bad catalytic converter. And an honest mechanic. That’s a reason for joy.

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