My Father’s Oldsmobile

by | May 15, 2013 | Dependability, God's Hands

I’ve never been anything spectacular, rather plain and average actually.

I suppose a lot of words along such lines can be used to describe me. However, none would be quite so fitting as the one bestowed upon me

during my freshman year in college. An all encompassing description summed up in a single word, it was the result of a pointless discussion–the kind that college girls are sometimes known to engage in–during the course of a long drive; ‘if you were a car, what kind of car would you be?’ (yep, higher learning at its finest).

There were four of us that day, leaving town for the weekend to give our intellect a rest, and as we drove the conversation ensued. We started with Stephanie. Willowy, with long flowing hair and striking blue eyes, she could catch a guy’s attention faster than a Corvette. So that’s what she got to be. Next was Suzanne. With her intelligence and sophistication–evident by her sense of style–a Mercedes seemed an appropriate personification. Then we came to Lindy, slender and petite, her perky smile could turn anyone’s day around. She was nothing short of a breath of fresh air. And that’s why she had to be a convertible of some sort. We debated for a few minutes before settling on an adorable, little, yellow VW convertible. Lindy grinned in approval.

I was last, and I sat there waiting to see what motorized distinction I would be given. Stephanie and Lindy inspected me from bumper to bumper while Suzanne drove. All three bit their lips as they contemplated. Finally, Lindy had an answer, and sweet as she was I’m sure there was no hidden intent. “An Oldsmobile,” she blurted, grinning at her conclusion. Stephanie and Suzanne, eyes as wide as headlights, didn’t comment.

My heart stopped. Oldsmobile! Oldsmobile? A list of qualities started running through my mind–everything I associated with what it meant to be an Oldsmobile; plain, ordinary, common, dull, unfashionable, humdrum, homely, uninteresting, and numerous other words depicting your garden-variety, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill car. And, as much as I hated to admit it, I knew it was me. I was–still am–an Oldsmobile.

I tried to look at the upside, and made a little joke to cover my hurt. “Yeah, but I’m not my father’s Oldsmobile,” I said. We all laughed, and went on to other mindless topics. But that distinction weighed heavy in my heart. And later, when I was alone, I cried over it. I didn’t want to be an Oldsmobile. No one wanted an Oldsmobile. Oldsmobiles were boring, and went un-noticed. They were meant strictly for transportation–no frills, no fun, just service. Who wanted that, and who wanted to BE that?

For a long time that moment defined me; an unwanted, clunkard, of a useless old car, or person—at least that’s what my distinction grew into over the years. Sometimes I wrestled with it, thinking that if I had to be an Oldsmobile I was going to be a dang nice one, and I made certain to keep regular detailing appointments at the gym and with the beautician. I also purchased frequent, elaborate, paint jobs in the form of clothes, and new stiletto tires to match.

When I grew weary from my ‘driving in circles’ effort–which never quite seemed to make me feel better—I threw myself to the ground, and used this title of mine as a means to flatten myself a bit more (and I’m not referring to weight loss).You see, Oldsmobiles are large, heavy cars, good for driving over one’s esteem, putting in reverse, backing up and doing it again. And such was the cycle for many years.

So, what has changed? Well, that’s another story in itself, one that is much too long to condense, and one that I’m not sure I would know how to tell if I tried. There have been some definite ‘ah ha’ moments in this transformation, but much of it has taken place in the subtle, quiet, ordinary and un-noticed moments–the Oldsmobile moments. Moments when I see the wonder of God’s creation in my children, feel the love of my husband after seventeen years of marriage, and realize that Oldsmobiles are not unwanted. There have been the times that I’ve helped a friend in need, or been helped by a friend whether in deed or through encouraging words, and I see how significant an Oldsmobile moment can be.

Then I consider that King David had been a shepherd, and Peter, a fisherman; even Mary most likely seemed quite average to anyone other than God. But they loved the Lord and sought to serve Him with all of their heart, and through that they found purpose in His eyes To take it a step further, God used the ordinary with His own Son. Christ was born in a manger. He was a carpenter’s son, and he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. A donkey! Transpose the time period and that’s sort of like coming to town in an Oldsmobile. If God could use such insignificance to His glory, he can use me.

So, I’ve done some contemplating about the qualities of an Oldsmobile; dependable and sure, sturdy, with room to carry many, comfortable, sensible, and an instrument of service, and I’ve come to a conclusion. I am happy and honored to be My Father’s Oldsmobile.

Shawna Williams


My Father’s Oldsmobile