I’m at the local mechanic’s shop getting my dizzy truck nursed back to health. Dizzy because it won’t drive straight. You can tell when you get out on a flat and straight road and it drifts to the right. The alignment’s messed up. Not a big deal.
They do a lot of alignments here, which is understandable. One of the many perks about living in the country is the abundance of dirt roads one can travel upon. One of the few drawbacks are the potholes that litter those roads. And since the recession has drained the Department of Transportation of funds, there are now plenty of potholes on the main roads, too. Big, angry ones that are hungry for unsuspecting tires.
The folks here at the shop aren’t the only ones who deal with the aftereffects of potholes. There’s a local preacher sitting here beside me. He deals with potholes too, though in a more spiritual sense. And his wife, who just got up to fetch a cup of coffee, is a practicing psychologist. A fixer of mental potholes.
Given the choice, I’d much rather hit a rut in my truck than in my life. Both hurt, of course. Both are ugly, too. And both will cost you. You just pay in different ways.
Hit a pothole in your truck, and all you have to do is come down to the shop here and have it fixed. While you wait, you can chat with some locals about the weather and the crops and fill yourself with free coffee. Most, you’ll find, have hit the very same pothole you have. There are worse ways to spend your afternoon.
Hit one in your life, though, and getting repairs can take a lot longer. Because it isn’t a simple process of getting a hunk of metal fixed, it’s a complicated process of getting yourself fixed. Your heart, your head, your soul. Because it’s easy to be full of happiness and peace and faith while the road is flat and straight, but when you hit a bump, when everything goes from good to downright awful, everything changes. Happiness becomes depression, peace becomes anger, and you not only wonder if you’ll find faith again, you wonder if you ever really had it in the first place.
There’s often no one you feel you can chat with when your life hits a pothole. There’s another difference. Some may see you dizzy and drifting and offer. They’ll say that the pothole you just hit is the very same they hit once upon a time. But you won’t believe them. You’ll think they’re wrong, that yours was bigger and deeper and they wouldn’t understand. I know this is true. I’ve said it myself to those who have tried to help me. Many times.
But you learn. You grow. It never gets easier to align yourself after the bumps in life, but you at least come to understand they’ll always be there. It doesn’t matter how carefully you go or how much you pay attention. Doesn’t matter how good you are. Sooner or later one of them will jump out and eat you and leave you dizzy and drifting again.
I think that’s one of the reasons why Christianity is so appealing. It doesn’t gloss over the potholes. It doesn’t tell you that with enough hard work and right living, the bumps will go away. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. The other part of that verse has Jesus saying to take heart, He has overcame the world.
Not the potholes, though.
Which I guess means that even though hitting them hurts, hitting them can also be necessary at times. That sometimes bad can turn out to be good.
I doubted that until I read about Steve Wheen, a cyclist who lives in London. Evidently the roads there are just as bad as they are here, and Steve was sick and tired of not only seeing them, but also riding over them.
So he started doing something about it. He started planting flowers in them. He ‘s turning ugly into pretty. Making something useless useful.
I wonder if we could do the same about the potholes in life.
I’m thinking Jesus would say yes.