Lessons Learned From The Check Engine Light

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.
-Philippians 4:6

Suddenly, the check engine light came on and I was anxious.  How much is this going to cost?  My car was just in the shop a week ago.  I was anxious, but I prayed.

I found out that if the problem that caused the light to go on is not constant, then the light will clear in about 2 to 4 days, and it did.  Then, it came on again and cleared again, after a few days.  I tried some fuel system cleaner (Red Line), but the light kept cycling on and off.  Each time, my anxiety was less, until it was at zero.

I had learned that a loose fuel cap can cause the light to come on, but I am always careful to tighten it.  When it kept happening after the fuel system cleaning and the car is running very smooth, I realized that fuel caps can just plain wear out.  Most likely the rubber sealing mechanism and the click, click, click; tightener wears out.  Caps can also crack. I realized that my gas cap was worn out and ordered a new one.

To be anxious for something, with over-focus means to, "go to pieces", or, "to pull apart".  The same issue can be important, but our concern for it needs to be assimilated into the larger picture.  The light on the dashboard reminds us that we live in a broken world.  The light may stay off for years, but we realize that the engine or transmission can suddenly fail one day, because we live in a broken world.

We have to learn to differentiate between a real crisis and an interruption that is an issue that needs attention, but is not a full crisis.

A flat tire or a check engine light is an important problem.  The flat must be immediately attended to and the light can be put off a bit.  It may re-set and stay off.  Some people don't know that, and take the car in immediately, erring on the side of caution, which is not a bad thing.

The administrator at a school I went to had this sign on her desk: "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine."  She had many experiences with students coming to her in crisis mode when it was a case of poor planning and interruption.  We often create our own "mini-crises".  People who constantly run late and speed through traffic, endangering everyone else, do this.

The check engine light is a signal that attention is required, or things could get worse.  The flashing check engine light does mean to pull over and get service immediately.  Neither of these are reasons to get on all fours and breathe into a paper bag.

When my light went on recently, I was surprised at my high level of anxiety about it and prayed about it and through it.  I went through the cycles I mentioned and it was an exercise each time to see if I could be less anxious, which I hated at first; but it did get better.  Now, that light has no anxious affect.
It is just a reminder of an unsolved problem, giving me no distress, just like the low fuel light.
Added on November 25th :. It turned out to be some air leaks. My garage repaired it last week.