We have deep ditches on both sides of the road into our neighborhood. During the hurricane season, these can be full and overflowing. While driving one evening, I came upon a stopped car with it's warning lights blink-blinking. When I stopped to wait to drive around, I looked at the ditch beside the car and noticed the top of a man's head. (Did I mention these are deep ditches?) I immediately thought the car had knocked some cyclist in the ditch.
I got out to help and called, "Sir are you OK?" I heard a muffled reply.
I calmed my squeamish nerves and prepared to help an accident victim. I followed the tracks of small wheels to where his head was bobbing. They seemed too small and numerous for bicycle tracks. Then I realized with even more squeamishness it was not a bicycle in the ditch but a riding lawnmower.
The man was OK--he had all his appendages and there was no blood. But his mower, his zero-turn- large-deck-expensive looking-riding lawnmower was sinking into the muck of the ditch. He was knee deep in water, trying to tie a rope on the frame to haul it out.
I called again, "Sir, I didn't hear you--are you OK?"
"Yeah I'm fine." Not even turning his head, he wrestled with a sturdy knot.
"Can I call someone?"
"No, I'm good. Don't need help." His tone was short and I decided the only injury was to his pride.
As I got into my car to leave, his wife got out of the vehicle with the blinking warning lights and gave me a sheepish wave. I wondered how many had stopped to offer him help and he waved them off? We live in redneck country and must've been a truck with a good winch on it within a couple blocks.
Sometimes people don't want help with their messes. It's true in life too. You have a friend who suddenly is quiet--they don't text or call. You haven't seen them around for a couple weeks and you check in on them. You can tell in their eyes they are struggling with something.
You ask, "Are you OK?" and they answer, "Fine".
For me that word "fine" is a four letter word. "Feeling Inadequate Need Encouragement" is more like what's really going on.
They have hit a ditch and they are struggling to get out. They took a wrong turn or made a bad choice and they are off road emotionally. Their wheels are deep in the muck or up a tree. They are convinced they can get themselves out of the predicament by their own power. The problem is their pride. They figure if people will just drive around them and leave them to their own struggle, they will get back on the road...eventually.
That's a hard life. Sure they can say they "won" several battles. But did they really? How many times have they seen that same ditch?
The Bible says it's better to have friends who will help you out of those emotional or spiritual ditches.
By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)
I want to encourage you to find some friends who will hold you up during your F.I.N.E. moments. People who don't gossip and have known your quirks and weaknesses for a while. My prayer is that they just show up with their tools. And remember to reciprocate. There is nothing like a friend who has been down that same road.
The man finally got his mower out of the ditch. Car and mower were gone by the time I was back down the road to home. But I wondered, will his pride be enough to get him through the next time something like this happens? And will he be able to laugh about it later? I hope so...I hope it wasn't his wife that planted the mower in the ditch.