Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Nudge

You know the feeling. You're going about your business, walking from your car to a store for an errand, waiting in line at the carpool for your child, just sitting on the front porch and thinking and people watching. And suddenly, you're aware that you aren't alone in the world. That there are other people going about their business and that maybe, just maybe, you're supposed to be involved for a second. Or a minute or two. The nudge, I call it.

Yesterday, as I was driving home from an appointment, I stopped to grab a few things from Whole Foods. I try to stock up when I go there because the aisles are so stinkin' narrow that it drives me crazy to shop there and I try to make the visits as rarely as possible. I was not in a huge rush to get home and pulled into a parking spot. I saw a man across the parking lot fumbling under his open car hood. Being the obvious genius that I am, I deduced he was likely not choosing to do car work in the middle of the Whole Foods parking lot and that he probably had some car trouble.  Internal conversation follows:

Me: Oh,  that guy's car must be broken. That's no fun.
Other me: Go to Whole Foods, it's not your problem.
Me:  He looks hot and frustrated.
Other me: You know nothing about cars, go into the store. He hasn't even seen you.
Me: I wonder if it's easily fixable?
Other me: Surely someone else who knows something about cars will help him. And besides, you're exhausted. GO TO THE STORE.
Me: I guess I'll just go the the store and see if he's still here when I get out. 
Other me: Ha!
Me: Wait, I'm no car genius but it's worth an ask.  If I can't help, I can't help.

So, I walk determinedly toward this guy who seems about my age and who is clearly enjoying being under his car hood on a 92 degree day in Durham. I ask him if his car is having trouble (duh?!) and he says he thinks he needs a jump. Do you need jumper cables, I ask? Nope, I've got them.  I've just been waiting for someone to offer a car. Right. I've got one of those.

Three minutes later, he was closing the hood of his now running car and I was making my way towards the produce section. Three minutes, four if you count my internal argument prior to helping. That's all it took. Now, I'm sure someone would've come along and helped him. But why not me? And why did it take me a minute of internal arguing to even think it could be me? Why is it so hard to see the people around me sometimes? Why am I so fixated on my day that I can justify letting it only be about me, my schedule, my plans, my own family and friends?  Why can I walk across campus and only think about my destination and ignore the potential stopping points along the way?  Why can I argue with myself about whether it's worth it to offer help?

The nudge. God's attempt to pull me outside of my own little narrow understanding of daily life and put me in the path of someone new.  That guy might have felt thankful for my help, I don't know. But, I'm feeling more thankful today for that tiny little wake-up call. I may be in Rockbridge camp recovery and understandably a little self-focused as I rest up, but that's never an excuse to only see myself.  I know that I get more nudges than I ever even notice and am adept at ignoring them.  My hope is that I'll hear more and more of them and that the self-arguments will become shorter and shorter until the reflex action is obedience, even when I'm tired and worn out and feel like I have all the excuses in the world to keep walking.  

1 comment:

  1. So true. I have many of those internal conversations with myself justifying why my agenda is more important than God's agenda. I often wonder when I will realize that my agenda is never more important!