My friend Patty called yesterday. "Do you want some bagels and flat bread? I just got a whole bunch on clearance at the bakery outlet!" Ever thoughtful, this old friend of mine! She's been on Cru ministry staff, along with her husband, for most of her adult life. I've known her for nearly 20 years, and she's always been so full of grace and generosity. I hadn't seen her in a while, but we keep in touch by e-mail and Facebook.
So Patty stopped by, and knowing she didn't come just to drop off some bread, I suggested we take a long stroll around my neighborhood and catch up in person. Unfortunately, while we were gone, her tire went flat in my driveway. Completely unruffled, she opened her trunk, pulled out her little electric air pump, and plugged it into the car's lighter. PSSSSH! Little by little the tire regained its roundness. Slow going, but "Slow and steady wins the race!" as the tortoise well knew. I thought that pump was really nifty and told her I'd have to get one since they're only about $25.
As we continued to talk, Patty hit the off button and pulled out the pump nozzle. But the tire was still pretty flat! She smiled. She'd had a bright idea that I didn't know about. Yep, that's right. She wanted me to learn how to pump up a tire from start to finish. Not just watch her, but DO it myself! So I did. Check the PSI number on the tire to find the proper air pressure so I wouldn't over-inflate it. Put the nozzle on the tire and flip the clamp lever. Plug it in to the car. Flip the on switch. Watch the dial until it reaches the PSI. Turn it off and take the nozzle off the tire. The whole works. I am now an empowered woman.
Patty explained to me that since her husband is very often out of the country on mission trips, she's had to learn to do a lot of things for herself. It keeps her from getting too frazzled. Because we're both philosophical chicks, we started musing about the metaphor of the tire pump and the PSI number. How do we find the proper pressure in our lives? Without air in our tires, we can't roll, but when does the pressure get too much and threaten a blow out? When are we taking on more than we can handle? When do we need to learn to back off and let it go? Or conversely, when do we need more air, more pressure? When do we need to step it up and take charge and make it happen? Good questions!
For Patty, this means there are certain ministry settings where she does not thrive. She knows what she can do and what she can't. It means finding emotional support from others when things get a bit much. It means accepting herself for who she is, rather than comparing to others who seem to have it all together. It means being resourceful, and finding ways to do practical things by herself and for herself.
In my own life, I find myself stressing about things I can't control while overlooking other problems that I should at least try to solve. I have to know when to walk by and when to dig in. I have to set boundaries and form reasonable expectations for myself and others. And I've had to learn to do a lot of things for myself rather than expecting others to do them for me. I visit a Christian counselor. I have a wonderful, supportive church and friends and family who check in on me and pray for me. I read a variety of blogs that help me both think and do things that will improve life at home and at work. I write in my journal or call a friend. I tackle a mess or close a door. I set goals and make a To Do list to motivate myself to action. At age 50, I don't have all the pep I did when I first met Patty, but slow and steady wins the race, right?
How about you? How do you find the proper pressure in your life? What is your part to play, and what is not?
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Grace and peace,
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