Words of Wellness

March 08, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

Avoiding Potholes

Once again, it is pothole season here in Wisconsin.† As the temperature rises and the ice melts, it is clear that the potholes have been multiplying again this year.† At best,† driving, biking or running around the potholes is annoying.† At worst, the potholes can cause damage to our cars, bikes and ankles. †

†††† While asphalt may appear quite solid to us, it actually has some flexibility to it so that it bends every time a vehicle drives over it.† Over time, asphalt becomes fragile from excess wear and may begin to develop cracks.† Once this happens, if repairs are not made, the formation of a pothole is inevitable.† The surface cracks allow water to seep in and settle both between the cracks and under the asphalt surface.† When the water freezes, it of course expands, which eventually causes the cracks to widen until large pieces of the asphalt are broken away.†† At this point, when a heavy enough vehicle comes along and hits the broken asphalt at just the right angle--there you have it, a newly formed pothole.

†††† This past week two friends of mine have both had to take their cars in for service because of damage created from driving over a large pothole.† In both cases the front end of their cars had been knocked out of alignment.† Recently, I myself hit two potholes in one day jarring my car and myself. The first was while driving my car, but so far the alignment of the car seems okay.† The second I hit while running, twisting my ankle. It hurt a bit but was nothing too serious, thank goodness. †

†††† Potholes on the road are aggravating enough and indeed can cause us major inconvenience, but they are nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual potholes that can form in our own lives.†† Like the road potholes, the first warning sign of a potential emotional or spiritual pothole in our lives is that the surface begins to weaken and show signs of cracks forming.† If these cracks are ignored, then the surface breaks away, and when a "heavy load" comes along and hits us, or our relationships, at just the right angle, a new pothole is formed. †

†††† In our relationships the surface cracks usually appear in one of two ways--increased tension and fighting, or increased distance and detachment.† These are common warning signs that a relationship has become fragile and is in need of repair.† It could be our relationship with a close friend, a spouse, a child or any other family member.† Too often though, we ignore the warning signs--the warning cracks--and drive on, perhaps even pushing the accelerator to try and drive a little faster.† Choosing to continue driving over the cracks without stopping to repair them guarantees that a full blown pothole will develop.†† And when it does, we will soon find ourselves and our relationships knocked out of alignment.† †

†††† I understand that there are not enough resources to repair all the cracked asphalt and potholes that form on Wisconsin roads.† The Department of Transportation plays an endless game of catchup, with only enough resources to repair the largest and most serious problems.† But when it comes to the "cracks" and "pothole" in ourselves and our relationships the good news is that there are abundant resources to address these problems and so we do not ever need to accept them as inevitable, as we do with the problems with our roads.† What are the abundant resources available to us?† These abundant resources actually all come under one name:† Love--the love of God, the love of friends, the love of family, the love of a friend, the care and concern of a pastor, a rabbi or a therapist. These abundant resources can heal any cracks or broken places in our hearts and souls.† Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened. †

††††† That's right, all we need to do is be honest about the cracks and ask for help. It is as simple and as hard as that.† It is so easy for us to forget this simple truth:† Love has the power to repair all the cracked and broken places of our lives.† May all the potholes we encounter on the road this time of year remind us of this truth, and may they also remind us of what happens when we forget it.

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