A few weeks ago, in our discussion of chapter three of Al Hsu’s The Suburban Christian, we discussed transportation as a suburban idol. Even the thought of giving up my car for a week (one of the challenges in the book), almost sent me into a panic attack.
But it did start me thinking . . .
The blessing of a car in my life has allowed me to build and nurture friendships with people who live beyond my neighborhood, and driving to minister and spend time with them seems like a good use of what God has given me. I also carpool when I can.
But I live and work within a couple of blocks from two different bus stops on the same route. With a little extra planning, I could defintely take the bus to work. And I do a lot of my shopping at stores within an easy bike ride. And even the library, bank and post office are all within easy biking distance. If I save up my money and bought a bike, I could cut down on even more car use.
So, after weeks of thinking, planning, and talking, today, I took the bus to work. And it was great. In fact, my eyes teared up out of relief when I got on this morning. But after just one day of riding the bus, I am realizing even more the depth of my dependence and addiction to my car. It’s far more than a mode of transportation; it has become a symbol of my lifestyle and identity.
From my first day as a bus commuter, here are a few observations:
1.) I cared far too much what people thought of me as I stood there waiting for the bus. I didn’t want them to think I HAVE to ride the bus, because I am poor or homeless or disabled or a recovering alcoholic. I wanted them to know that I have a car at home in the garage and that I am taking the bus because I am a responsible, good person. In other words, riding the bus showed me more than ever that I am very self-centered, prideful, and judgmental.
2.) Getting around in an air-conditioned car, driving from my air-conditioned home to my air-conditioned office has totally removed me from the cycles of nature and weather. I might complain if it rains when I’m supposed to have a picnic, and the temperature determines whether or not I wear a jacket, but I generally live quite independently from the laws of nature. And so today, when I left home without an umbrella, I had a dilemma on my hands when the afternoon rain set in. Thankfully, my friend Matthew loaned me his.
3.) For some people, transportation is the difference between getting by and getting ahead. If I didn’t have a car and I worked on the other side of town, trying to get there by bus would take hours. I would then be forced to take a job closer to home or on a closer bus route, and most likely it would pay less. This experiment of mine, riding the bus to work, is real life for a lot of people.
I am not changing the world by riding the bus, but God is slowly showing me that every thing I do each day is a choice, whether I realize it or not. And the more deliberate I am about the choices, the better steward I become.
What choices are you rethinking today?
LL’s “Commute This“
Al’s “Countering Commuter Culture“
Sara’s “Bike Culture“