May 16, 2018

French Fries and Bike Rides

Sometime last week, I was asked to get my brothers from their friend’s house to come home for dinner. Not unusual in any way, so I walked outside, hopped on my bike and began my search for my younger brothers.

It was a bit chilly outside, colder than I expected, but I held onto the hope that I’d find them soon enough and thought of the warmth I would feel once I got home. As I rode down the road, I felt a drop of rain hit my skin. Great, now I really have to hurry. I looked at each house, seeing if I could spot my brothers or if there was any sign as to where they were. Not a sign of either of them. I biked down to a cul-de-sac and turned around, headed back to our house, but still looking out for them. Now that I was biking in the opposite direction, I was against the wind and it began to rain harder. I’m not sure if my tires were just flat or if I’ve simply grown weak from not biking for a while, but my legs began to ache as I continued on. I was freezing, couldn’t find my brothers, it was raining, my throat was dry and I had difficulty breathing. The faster I pedaled, the faster I could get home, even if I didn’t find them. After a little bit, I finally pulled into the driveway. I told my dad I couldn’t find them and he noticed I was out of breath and asked if I was okay. I said yes, but I just needed to sit down and drink water. I was told I can go ahead and eat dinner. I sat down at the bar, my plate in front of me, and waited to eat in order to catch my breath. My legs were shaky and weak, and I slowly recovered. I began to eat my food and as I ate the fries, I noticed they would taste much better if I had ketchup. However, I had neither strength nor enough motivation to get up and grab the ketchup, it simply wasn’t worth the pain. As I was finishing up my dinner, I looked across the kitchen and saw some rice krispy treats. Wow, did I want one. But even still, I didn’t want to stand. I barely had enough energy to eat the food in front of me. I sat for a little while longer, drank the rest of my water and finished my food. I no longer had a need for ketchup and had no appetite for a rice krispy treat, so I headed upstairs.

You all may be confused as to why I’m telling this story. Allow me to explain. As I sat there, I thought about the strange allegory that came to mind as I wished for ketchup and rice krispies. Both in my life and the lives of others, I’ve seen people so burned out that they don’t even have the energy to reach for the things that they know will help them and don’t even want to think about trying. It’s simply not worth it. They lose the motivation to do what they know is good and beneficial for themselves, and so dig themselves into a deeper pit until something or someone comes along to help them.

Sometimes what they need is time. Time to process, understand, and recover. But often, time isn’t enough. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase, “Time heals all wounds.” This tends to trigger me, because what if there isn’t enough time? Even if it heals, the memory will always be there. The pain is still going to be painful, even if it ends eventually. Some things hurt so much that they can’t wait any longer and they can’t do what they need to help themselves. Time often harms as well. It pulls at our good memories, blurring them all together until you can’t tell one from another, or what was reality or just a dream. Time is not the ultimate healer.

If time isn’t the solution, perhaps it’s people. People who love you, who know what’s going on, and who have the time, energy, and mental stability to help. People who meet all of those “requirements” are rare, at least in my case. As is often the case with most of my loved ones, I can talk to them about issues but they also talk to me about theirs. We all have something to deal with, and so we all come together to push each other along, even if some fall behind. Had someone been home, I may have asked them to get me the ketchup. I can’t do everything on my own, I don’t think any of us can. But sometimes, we find ourselves struggling along, with no one to help as we’re at our lowest point. We reach out for help, but there’s nothing they or anyone can do to make the situation better or even solved.

Sometimes the fault lies in ourselves. I was weak. I gave up on finding my brothers because I was so drained and couldn’t continue on. I gave into my wants. I just wanted to regain my strength and to no longer be in pain. I had no excuse, as I often don’t when I make awful decisions for myself and others. Not that letting myself breathe was a bad decision, but that I regularly find myself making the wrong choices and then try to use time and people as a mechanism to get myself out of the place I put myself in, not acknowledging my own fault.

Other times we simply need Scripture. When I’m weak or just exhausted, both emotionally and physically, I tend to prioritize something over another. I listen to music, talk to people, or eventually go to sleep. I don’t prioritize reading the Bible. I have never regretted reading it and I know it’s good for me, but when I’m down I just don’t have the energy or desire to reach for it, even though I know I should. My head tells me it will help, but I tell myself I’ll read it later when I’m feeling better and have more time, as if I can only read it when everything is okay. As if it’s not something that can make me okay. I eventually begin to read the Psalms and feel revived, comforted, and hopeful. I’ll read certain verses and think, “Oh my goodness, this applies to me! And this too!” then I may tear up because I am reminded where my strength comes from and where I find my comfort, help, and forgiveness for the places I’ve put myself in. It is my ultimate comfort and I certainly hope that the next time I’m at a weak point, I reach for the Bible instead of French fries.

Although I do believe time and people can be of help when you’re in a difficult situation, neither can fix you entirely or for long enough. For me personally, reading the Bible is always an encouragement but not just reading it. I understand it and feel what I need to feel upon reading it and it brings me to greater strength in my faith and my life as a whole, even when I may have had a difficult day or nothing seems right. People and time are a massive help in my life, but as Psalm 121 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills, From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”