Those were words I consistently shared with my students, children, or anyone else who fell under the sound of my voice in conversation. Trusting the process is an easy concept but a challenging charge. I’ll share one of a multitude of examples where I’ve had no other choice…really.
Some years back, my daughter drove a little black Jeep Liberty. That Jeep came from a process of trusting and, I must add, setting intent. Before that she drove the cutest darling red Volkswagen Beetle. When I bought it for her, the Christmas of her senior year in high school, she just sat in it on that usually warm winter day and cried tears of joy. That joy multiplied in me many times over, just seeing and remembering. That little Beetle was a dream come true…all the way up until it wasn’t. It transformed into a time and money chomping little beast. It ate up most of her earnings from her job at the movie theatre, and a good share of mine. The electrical system went haywire. The moonroof decided to get stuck open right before a torrential downpour. One day I came home and she had the dash and door guts spread out on the ground in front of the garage. I looked at her in passing, saw the determination in her face, took a deep breath, and picked up my steps to the door of the house. Hours later she had mitigated the problem. I then realized that this little fella was helping me parent. It was actually teaching her lessons about patience, perseverance, hard work, hard times, and all that good stuff. Plus, I had a requirement that to have a car, you had to make enough money to pay your own monthly insurance premium. My daughter never missed a payment, even with all the beetle juice draining.
It was a Thanksgiving holiday when she came home for the break from Jacksonville University. She had gone away to college at sixteen so I was a little more than protective. That little beetle sputtered into the yard and she hopped out, glad to be home. I knew then, it was over. I sent her back to school after Christmas in my truck. This came in handy because we had a snowstorm that winter and the truck was right on time for her. Not for me though. I needed my ole trusty truck back.
When she came home for spring break, we had already decided that we were going to get her another car. The beetle was resting in the driveway, waiting to see what the end would be. I had informed her that my truck would not be going back to the university. We decided on the type of car she wanted, all the way down to the color. Then she added, “And I want a sunroof.” She had grown fond of the little hole in the top of the beetle. I understand though. I’m a sunroof man too. My response to her was, “I don’t think they come with a sunroof, doll.” “Ok”, she said without any argument.
Nights after work, I’d been pouring through online ads looking for a black Jeep Liberty. One particular night, still sitting in my tiny office, just as I was about to sign off, I saw it. At a local dealership right in town. A basic black Jeep, no sunroof, no leather seats, no 4×4. Just a basic basic. But it was a black Jeep Liberty and in my price range. I called and it was available. I knew I wouldn’t make it there before the dealership closed so we planned to go the next morning and claim our Jeep. The timing was perfection without practice. I’d found the jeep and she was home for spring break. She would drive that jeep back to school. And I would have my good ole truck back.
The next morning I called to let the dealership know I was on the way. They couldn’t find the Jeep. They eventually told us it had sold the night before so late that the salesperson neglected to put it in the system. I didn’t understand. That was our jeep. I was inclined to take my frustration out on the person on the other end of the phone but decided otherwise and let them go, unscathed. But my feelings were thoroughly scathed. It was right in my price range too. It seemed perfect. She was home from school to get her Jeep. The one she described, sort of.
In my shadow of defeat, I went to my laptop, halfheartedly opened it, and began to surf. After a few minutes, I found one in Ardmore, AL about 30 miles away. It was more Jeep than I had planned for and the price was above my range. “Can we at least go look at it?” she asked. The hopeful look on her face and the memory of the time, care, and dollars she’d poured into the beastle pulled a reluctant, “Alright then.” out of me. This trip would have a dual purpose. It would keep me from having to break it to her that we couldn’t afford that car and it would give her something to set her sights on. We headed to Ardmore.
When we arrived, the Jeep was right up front. You know how the small dealerships park the best looking vehicles up front toward the street. My heart skipped again. It was extra clean. It was black with heated leather seats, low miles, alloy wheels, great tires, 4-wheel drive…and a sunroof. My eyebrows went up. Right along with the price tag. As we talked to the salesman, I was trying to give my daughter the eye to not appear so excited. Then something kicked in. I call it the faith factor. My daughter’s name actually means ‘faith’.
“Are you financing with us? Do you have a trade in?” the salesman asked. “I have my own financing and yes, I have a trade in.”, I responded. My daughter’s head whipped around to me. The surprise in her eyes was undisguised. I gave her the side eye and she played it cool. She’s good at reading me. I described the beetle to the guy and he really seemed interested. “Ok, we’ll be back in about and hour or so if we decide we want the Jeep.” I said nonchalantly. ” We can do you right with that beetle.” he tagged on. I waved and we kept walking toward my truck, never looking back.
“He really wants that beetle.” I finally told her when we were pulling off the lot. “I think it may work.” “But that Jeep is way over the price you said…” she started. I cut her off, “It is right now, but I have a plan. And I believe that’s your Jeep.” We got home and I told her to get the keys to the Beetle. I could see the questions in her eyes. The Beetle actually ran fairly well. Plus the shiny red paint made it look way better than it actually was. She retuned with the keys. We hopped in and headed back. It was a long shot but one I was going to take. “He’s a car man. He’ll decide what he’s going to do. I’ll be straight with him about it, and we’ll see what happens.” The beetle had other plans. About a mile or two from the house one of the foglight just popped right out. We both heard it hit the concrete. I pulled over on a side street and rigged it back in. “This thing is fighting not to go. We just need it to get us to that lot.”
We pulled up a little over a half hour later and in less than forty five minutes, we pulled off that car lot and headed back to Huntsville in a shiny black Jeep Liberty with new tires, heated leather seats, 4-wheel drive…and yes, a sun roof. At a point, I had conceded and began to trust the process. I knew something was unfolding for us. I accepted that this was what she wanted, not just what we would settle for. Let that sink in for a minute. And with the beetle trade-in, it came within my chosen price range. There’s power in that that thing-the faith factor (that could have just as easily been the title of this post). I’ve experienced it more times that I can count on all my digits. At those times when doubt creeps in and settles down beside me, I remind myself to trust the process. Do remember though, that process is an action word.