One of my favorite things in the whole world is to ride on the back of a motorbike down the red dirt roads to the villages of Cambodia, between rice patties and trees and children and cows, the wind against my face and my eyes feasting on the landscape. This is the stuff of poetry.
And then there are the bumps.
After all, they are dirt roads. The small bumps make me slide forward in the seat little by little, until it’s finally time to get readjusted. Then there are the bigger bumps, the ones that make your body weight shift upward (like when you accidentally hit a pothole and fly up off your seat…except not quite that big)—and those are the ones you can use strategically. You can use the jostle to pop right back into position. Or you can ignore it and just stay really uncomfortable. If you ignore it long enough, I'm sure you could probably lose your balance (but don't worry, I've never done that on a motor bike!).
I’ve been thinking lately how there are a lot of bumps in life, and how I’m in the middle of one right now. There are bumps when we move, when we change careers, when we begin or end relationships. Sometimes we expect them, and sometimes we don’t. But in either case, we have the choice to use them strategically or to ignore them.
The thing about these bumps is that they don’t really have much to do with the horizontal direction you’re heading. You can be on your way anywhere: you can be on a straight stretch of road, you can be on a blind curve, or you can be approaching an intersection. They have to do with your positioning vertically—how you’re sitting on the bike that’s beneath you. How you relate to the thing that is always with you, no matter where you go.
I’m in the middle of a bump. I have the chance to evaluate how I’m relating to what's always with me—myself and Jesus.
Am I where I want to be with Jesus? Am I engaged in the kind of relationship for which He has made me? Am I delighting in Him, and am I believing He is delighting in me? Am I seeking Him, listening to Him, loving Him, obeying Him? Am I overwhelmed by His presence, His love?
And am I where I want to be as a person—am I mentally and emotionally and physically healthy? Am I forgiving and showing grace to myself? Am I anxious or depressed or buying into perfectionism? Am I taking care of myself?
Here I am, with the choice to inventory and let go of the things that are weighing me down, to reposition and make sure I am in the place I want to be with regards to my God and myself. In her book Packing Light, Allison Vesterfelt (one of my favorite blogged) writes,
“You have wants, desires, needs, and ideas. These are all things you ‘pack’ with you for your journey. You might not even know you’re carrying them, but they’re in there. You’re walking around with a heavy suitcase” (p. 252).
I want to use this bump strategically. I want to toss unnecessary baggage off the back of the motorbike, focus on and enjoy the thrill of adventuring with Jesus, and make sure I’m in good shape internally.
And when this bump is over—well, perhaps the best thing about bumps in the road is that they remind us that we can reposition at any time, really. We don’t have wait for a huge unsettling event in our lives to check our internal well-being and our relationship with the Lord. All it takes is a little intentionality and we can slide right back to where we’re supposed to be—or a little closer, at least.
We may not always have the choice of avoiding bumps in the road, but we do have the choice in how we respond to them. Wherever you are in life, I pray your bumps afford you the joy of repositioning and enjoying a fresh perspective of yourself, of your surroundings, and most of all, of the Lord.
What are some bumps you're facing in life right now?
Are you anticipating bumps on the upcoming road, or have you just come through a bumpy stretch?
How do you usually handle bumps?