Last week we bought a new-used van. Three days later, I felt awful, thinking we’d made a huge mistake and I began researching if it were possible to return a car.
The answer was NO (I wasn’t surprised) but what I learned was so helpful.
#1. I learned it is very common to have ‘buyers’ remorse’ after making a big purchase like a car. Almost everyone has it. So I am not strange.
And #2. I learned the idea of ‘cognitive dissonance.’
We all have certain perceptions and expectations of ourselves, our beliefs and our values. And if we do something that contradicts those perceptions and values, it stresses us.
Regret, sadness, guilt, even shame can dog us when our actions don’t align with our deeper beliefs.
I could see that my feelings about owning this van were due to dissonance with my self-perception: “I am not the kind of person who drives such a nice car.”
It only took a minute to see the insanity and to thank God for this good gift.
But I kept thinking about the idea of dissonance. It seems a good word for what I am experiencing these days.
It is summertime, but because of COVID, the library, the pool, the children’s parks and most camps are closed. We have no trips planned and all the usual family visits are cancelled.
You hear stories of disharmony in families, political disagreement dividing friends.
Protests and conflicts about race and monuments and face masks are unsettling.
Dissonance is all around me and inside of me and the stress is getting to me; it is changing me.
I think of myself as out-going, disciplined, an early riser, always working on some good project.
But these days I fight laziness, introversion, overeating, and regret, sadness, guilt, shame.
The world is not as it should be. And neither am I.
A dissonant thing happened early this morning.
I was awakened by loud birdsongs. Chirrups and cheeps, trills and warbles, even a woodpecker drumsound, harmonized as I lay in bed listening, amazed.
It took me back to Africa, remembering my joy when a vast troupe of migrating starlings stopped at our camp for a few days, their strong and marvelous singing filled the air and filled me with praise for God.
But this was North Carolina. Never heard such exotic birds sounds here. I felt I was being called to worship and I happily got up and went out on the back porch to investigate.
Did they leave?
Back inside my bedroom, the singing was loud again.
Oh, oh, they’re out front.
I poked my head out the opposite window. I could hear the creek and the typical morning birds, but where was the ‘choir’?
In my bedroom it was loud again.
Oh . . .
I know. . . .
Yesterday in a moment of defiance I will not let COVID change me; I will rise early, I activated the bedtime feature on my phone and chose ‘birdsong’ for the alarm ringtone.
I am laughing so much.
Maybe dissonance is not all bad.
Maybe the dissonance in this crazy world and in myself will keep me seeking after God.
Keep me thanking Him.
And keep me worshiping Him.
Isn’t it surprising what you can learn from a van and some birds?