Car Wash Confessional

My car is really dirty right now I suppose as a result of weeks of on-again-off-again rain coupled with my propensity towards procrastination. I’m not a stickler for a spotlessly clean car. I’m not a stickler for a spotlessly clean anything – personal hygiene notwithstanding – I do shower and brush my teeth every day. But I digress…

By the time this post goes live, my car will have been washed. It’s past the point of acceptable filth, so tomorrow I will go to the car wash. Once my car is clean and I drive out of the parking lot and into the street, something will happen. I will begin to notice the cars that are not clean. From inside my newly clean vehicle, I will sit in judgment of those who dare drive around in a dirty car. Why do I do this? It’s horrible, I know. I try not to, but I do it anyway.

I think the reason I do this is for the same reason that, after quitting smoking I judged those who still smoked, and after I quit drinking I judged those who still drank. Because once my car is clean and my lungs no longer filled with smoke and my liver no longer in danger of cirrhosis, that somehow makes me feel superior.

I think on average, I do fairly well in the “not comparing myself to others” category. There are certain things I think I’m fairly good at, and other things I’m not so good at. I’m really okay with that. Mostly. And I don’t judge those who smoke and drink anymore. I have plenty of friends who do one or both, and I don’t like them any less, nor do I feel superior to them.

So what’s the deal with the clean car snobbery? I’m not certain, but I think it has to do with the fact that keeping my car clean is something I struggle with. With two kids, carpools, rainy weather, etc., my car seems to get dirty more often than I care to clean it. And when I do go to the trouble of getting it clean, I immediately begin to subconsciously wonder why others can’t. It’s the selfish and shameful part of me that wants to stand in judgment without having walked in mile in someone else’s shoes. It’s easy to do that from inside of your car. Easy to dehumanize a person from within a metal and glass box on wheels.

But then I sometimes find myself stepping out of my car and doing the same thing. Wondering why someone can’t seem to get it together, or control their kids at the mall, or keep from gossiping about others, or worrying about keeping up with the Joneses.

Which is weird, because those are all things I’ve struggled with.

Or maybe it’s not so weird after all.

Maybe God’s trying to tell me something.

As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure He is.

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