Twice this past week I made a humiliating mistake, and twice I found myself in an awful place – lost, with no way of getting quickly back to where I need to be.
Both times the mistake was the same. I sat at the bus stop, waiting for a certain bus, and when a bus rolled up at the right time I hopped on… only to later discover (a couple of stops too late) that I had gotten on the WRONG BUS.
You’d think that I’d have learned my lessons the first time: Be aware of your surroundings. Buses are not always on time – don’t assume that just because it’s there at the right time that it’s the right bus. Double-check before the bus leaves to make sure it’s the right one.
As I rode along each time, I was sitting and listening to language recordings, or checking email, or just watching the world go by. I was confident that I was on the right bus. Then I got that little twinge that something wasn’t right – I don’t remember that stop being on the route… and before you know it I’m standing in a part of town I’ve never been in before, trying to figure out how to get back on track.
Why share this? Wasn’t it humiliating enough to begin with without having to share it with the world?? Because it reminded me of some important life lessons, too.
- Know where you are. Since we’ve been here in Kosice, I have been very aware of my own spiritual and emotional needs. Maybe it’s because getting here (and surviving here) has been an experience that requires a lot of faith and attention! But I’m not always this aware – in fact, I often find myself cruising along like I was on the bus those days… blissfully unaware that I was headed in the wrong direction in some way.
- Know when it’s time to get off. And really, it’s never too late to get off if you find yourself headed the wrong direction. I’ve recently been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, in which he reminds us:
“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.
If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road…”
Whether it’s changing a destructive habit, rooting out sin in our lives, or asking a friend for forgiveness, sometimes we just have to stop where we are – even if the terrain is unfamiliar – and start finding our way back to the right path.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ll admit it – I’m that stereotypical guy who doesn’t want to ask for help. But I had no choice on one of these occasions. The place I’d gotten off had no more trams for at least three hours. The taxi number stored in my phone did not work – and I could not have told them where to get me anyway. So I had to bite the bullet – I went into the nearby car dealership and asked for someone who speaks English. In this process, I met a surprising new friend! Sometimes asking for help is the only option, and we might just discover new friends and new places along the way.
So yes, this post had three points and a quote. I haven’t given a sermon in a few weeks, so maybe that’s just my inner-preacher trying to get out. But I’ve learned – and been reminded of – some very good lessons this past week.