Monday, June 13, 2011

What keeps me from flying through the windshield

Was she wearing a seatbelt? How often is this question asked when we learn of someone who was injured or killed in a car accident. I’m not sure why we ask it. I suppose it’s to confirm what we already know. Seatbelts save lives.

I remember sitting through those terrifying driver training movies during high school and being indelibly convinced that I would never turn the key in the ignition of a car without first fastening my seatbelt. Since then, buckling up has become second nature to me. I fasten myself in without thinking about it. Even if I’m sitting in a parked car with the engine turned off, I feel naked without my seatbelt.

Do you remember when it became the law that we would all have to wear seatbelts and some people groused about how this was an infringement on their freedom? I never understood that way of thinking. It seems to me that if you have to be forced not to be a fool, then you’re an even bigger fool!

During this wild ride of a life that I’ve been traveling, I'm thankful that I've been wearing a spiritual seatbelt. Being connected to someone greater than myself, someone who sees me exactly as I am, flaws and all, and yet loves me more than I can ever love myself, is what holds me together. Without that, I feel like I could just as easily end up in a bazillion pieces, scattered over a guard rail on the side of some obscure, God forsaken road. Wearing this seatbelt has become second nature to me. It’s always there; I don’t have to think about putting it on. But when I know that I’m in for an especially treacherous ride, I need an extra measure of security.

Last week I decided it was time for me to go public with some physical challenges I’m facing in my life. (see blog post, “Note to body: stop ruining all my fun”) That wasn’t easy for me. I hate whiners! But beyond that, I’m a very private person and have kept this problem to myself for a long time, hoping that it would all resolve itself and no one would ever have to know. (Yes, perhaps I was in denial.) As it became apparent to me that this disease wasn’t going to go away without considerable effort, I realized that the time had come for me to buckle up for a bumpy ride.

God’s love doesn’t come to us in a vacuum. We experience it through community, through the people God places in our lives. We were not created to travel “that long, lonesome highway." We were created to journey together, supporting, encouraging and challenging one another along the way. This is how God’s love comes to us; we’re channels of his love to one another. So, when we need help, it’s okay to ask for it. In fact, to keep things to ourselves, and think we can brave it alone, like strong little soldiers, is to deny God’s love access to us. It’s taken me a long time to realize that, but I think I get it now.

So, I’m telling people who have been accompanying me on my life journey about my struggle. You need to know. Not because I’m hoping someone out there can fix me, but simply because we're in this together and I trust that you care. I covet your prayers and your support and I long to know that you’re walking beside me, even if only for a single step along the way. I turn to you because I need assurance that the love of God is securely fastened, like a seatbelt, around me. (Just as I hope you turn to me, when you need to check to see if your seatbelt is securely fastened, as well.) That’s why God has given us to one another through the gift of community. For me not to share my troubles with you would be to turn my back on God. And turning my back on God would be as foolish as driving in rush-hour traffic without a seatbelt.

Is this going to protect me from anything harmful coming my way? Of course not. No more than wearing a seatbelt prevents traffic accidents. But it will keep me from flying through the windshield.

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