. . . because someday it will!
It was bound to happen sometime. I’ve had my new road bike a month or so and been out on about a dozen rides. I saw the troublesome looking rock as I rode through the mud and debris that was trailing out from the construction site, but too late. I could not avoid it, and sure enough, pop! There went the back tire tube. That was deflating.
But that’s life, isn’t it? Live long enough and compile enough life experience and some time some place things are going to go “pop!” It’s not a matter of if, but when. It may be nothing more than an inner tube, but it may be something way more . . that lab report you’ve been waiting on; that call at 2 a.m. (nothing good ever happens that time of day); that “pop!” to your smooth ride through life’s current chapter. What do you do when life goes pop?Luckily this wasn’t my first rodeo (I’d blown a couple of tires on my last bike), so I was carrying everything I needed to change out the tube and get back on the road. As I did so, and finished this morning’s ride, I kept making the comparison between my ride’s pop and the other pops of life. Here’s my list of comparative measures you can take when life goes pop:
- Plan Ahead: Take preventive measures. I was thankful to be carrying a spare tube, container of CO2, and a couple of tire levers in my saddle bag. I also had my phone and identification (the latter being in case they find me dead in the ditch someday). Not to be morbid, but I once drove my family along some of my favorite routes for that exact purpose – if I didn’t come back, they’d know where to look. That’s planning ahead.
From a faith perspective the equivalent of planning ahead includes: Having a current relationship with Christ, being active in my faith community, and understanding that both of the above may well be more critical to my long term wellness than many other things that clamor for my attention. Too often I have seen persons who weren’t prepared for the pop because they’d lived under the illusion that “it won’t happen to me” or “I’m an independent contractor” (when it comes to the things of faith) and can handle life on my own. Post pop, most of those same folks will tell you they were wrong.
- Safety First: My first thought after the “pop” was get off the road to a safe place. It was only then that I could assess the situation and begin to make plans for my next steps.
In life’s pops this step is equal to calling 911, or convincing your stubborn family member to let you take them to the ER. There are clearly times when we need to call on community responders or other first call professionals to get us to safety. Do you think of your pastors or Christian mentors in that way? Or are they more of a last resort? Maybe its time to examine your list.
- Don’t Panic: I had a lot of plans for today and fixing a flat on my still new road bike wasn’t really one of them. Post pop my thoughts immediately went to how off track the day was now going to go. But then I stopped myself and thought: Maybe the worst has already happened. No need to panic or get angry, that will not change things. Cool down, calm down and get to work.
If you examine the gospels you will have a hard time ever finding Jesus in a panic. There are some occasions of urgency (mostly conveyed by others), and certainly serious, life and death scenarios; but panic is just not Jesus style. Why should it be ours?
- Accept Help: Two persons stopped and offered to help. The first was a police officer. I told him “thank you” but I had things under control – and at the time I really thought I did. Several minutes later as I struggled with getting the tire back over the new tube, a fellow cyclist stopped. “Could you use some help?” The answer was “yes”. Pete could see what I couldn’t – the new tube had a little too much air in it. When we made that adjustment the rest of the repair fell into place.
As a Christ follower I tend to think that your best source of help when life goes “pop” is going to be found within the body of Christ – that is the church. (See “plan ahead” above) Just as cyclists form a unique community that is quick to assist others in our sport, as Christ followers we are called to love and care for one another. But you’ve gotta be an active part of the body for the other parts to know you are hurting. And, you’ve gotta be willing to accept help when you know you need it.
- Get Back Out There: As I thanked Pete profusely for stopping and offering some skill and encouragement, his last words to me were, “Have fun.” And you know what? I did. I finished my planned ride, the bike performing as good as new.
Too often we allow the pops of life to sideline us. It might be grief, the fact that things have changed – or we’ve changed. We may be hesitant, overly cautious or tempted to isolate and withdraw. Life’s full of pops. There will be more. You gotta get back out there – just make sure you’re carrying the right tools in your saddle bag.