Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chainlink Speedwobble Oblivion

I was 8 years old and my best friend Terry was 9. We had this thing we did with her bike, called "I pedal/You Steer". A rather complicated procedure facilitated only by the fact that a.) her bike had a cool banana seat and mine didn't and b.) we were rather inventive. I'd sit on the back of the banana seat and pedal, and she'd sit on the front of the seat and... you guessed it, steer. I really don't know what made this more fun than just riding our own bikes independantly, but we enjoyed it quite a bit.

One day we decided to do this on the hilly sidewalk next to the grade school we went to, just a few blocks from our houses. We launched from the top of the hill and about halfway down the block, things started to get a little... wonky. As we picked up speed, Terry began to lose control of the handlebars. Being behind her on the seat, I didn't realize it (and didn't put the pedal brakes on) until it was too late. The combination of the influence of speed, gravity, balance and a little panic for good measure, sent Terry and I straight into a chain link fence. We hit the fence so hard it sort of scraped us both off the bike and left us on the ground with some pretty painful injuries. I still have a scar to this day, from that day Terry and I wiped out into Chainlink Speedwobble Oblivion. That day pretty much marked the end of our "I pedal/You Steer" careers.

I thought about this childhood memory just recently when it occured to me just how fast, and how easy it is to sustain spiritual speedwobble - and how it happens when the same kinds of dynamics are in place.

Even though Terry and I were pretty good at this little trick we did, there were influences at play that we couldn't handle (and didn't see coming, or didn't take into account), and we suffered as a result. Spiritual speedwobble really isn't any different, even for the mature believer.

We all know we live in a sin-satuarated world. It's so prevelant it's even in our own homes, via the tv, dvds, cds, radio, internet, and even the very attitudes we wake up with or come home with, every day. The more people you have in your home, the more conduits sin has, to be at work in your house. Right now, there are 8 people (plus 4 dogs - 2 sane and 2 nowhere near sane) living in my house. Some are believers, some are not, some I just honestly don't know yet. When you add personality, maturity, spiritual condition, attitudes, and issues of authority to the mix, there are just lots and lots of opportunities for sinful reactions and attitudes to be rather influential in my own house, if we don't head them off at the pass, nip them in the bud, and be on the lookout for them before they ever take root. It's a full time job, no question about it.

In our house, most people who know us would say that it feels hectic here all the time. I suppose that's a normal impression for those that are not accustomed to being around lots of people all day, every day. For us, hectic is actually normal. (As normal as it is to hear someone in our house say "for meeeeeeeeee" the way Gollum said it in LOTR, or to hear any of the kids speak with a British accent and recite lines from the scene when Lucy first met the fawn, in Narnia). If everyone were quiet we'd be worried something was wrong. Personally, I'd love it if everyone were more quiet, but even then I'd still worry something was wrong. While it's not truly hectic - to the point of lack of peace - on a regular basis in my home, just like any other family, we have those times too. I find one of the fastest ways in our house to sustain a spiritual derailing, is during those times of personality conflict or attitude issues. I see it in the kids (small scale) all the time when one wants something the other one has. Or one of them said something unkind, or one of them took something that belonged to the other one. All it really takes to get the derailing started, is one person saying or doing something that offended or insulted the other one, and rather react with grace, they react with anger/pride/offense/jealousy, and off they go straight into the proverbial chainlink fence. While it's far more common among children and teenagers (and teenagers are a completely different category anyway) it's certainly something that as an adult, I still find happening to me at times.

Sometimes, I just don't see the handlebars shaking, and I don't notice (in time) that I've left the pavement and I'm headed into the fence. Sometimes, I don't even realize it until a split second before I hit the fence myself, and by then of course it's too late. A flared temper, a word spoken without grace, or maybe just a flash of attitude that wasn't accompanied by any words at all. I really hate it that this happens. I really hate it that I know what the influences are, that I'm constantly on guard against them, and they still find a way in. Thankfully, these speedwobbles don't leave me bloddy and bruised like the one when I was 8 years old, and thankfully they happen with much less frequency the older I get, but they sure do still happen from time to time, even when I thought my eyes were wide open.

One of the most interesting things about this for me, is that the conviction of the Holy Spirit in times like this, feels in some ways, like that Bactine spray mom used to use on me, to clean up the wound and prevent it from getting worse. Man o MAN that stuff hurt almost as bad as the wound itself, but it was a different hurt, and a needed one, to aid in healing and recovery. I hope it's not seen as irreverant to parallel the work of the Holy Spirit with the sting of Bactine spray, but I'm sure glad that He does the work He does, even when it stings.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family