Making a Difference

I was driving through our neighborhood the other day, in a hurry, and felt particularly annoyed by the speed humps on the road between my house and the local elementary school. Then I remembered how they got there.

When we moved into the neighborhood about seven years ago, my wife decided that vehicles were going too fast on the road that passes by our house. It was hard to argue with that...some went speeds that must have been around 60 mph.

The unusual thing about it was what my wife said she was going to do. "I'm going to get speed bumps put in on this road," she said. Now, she didn't know anything about how to get speed humps put in, but she wasn't very worried about that. Instead, it might as well have already been done...she would figure it out and make it happen.

We found out it wasn't an easy process. It required petitions by the home owners (who are often different from the people living in the house at the time), securing city funds, street map checking to ensure the road isn't classified as a major passageway for emergency vehicles, and many other requirements. Undaunted, and with little help from me, she went around the neighborhood and began collecting signatures. Not everyone thinks getting speed humps is a good idea. And tracking down owners of rental properties takes quite a bit of persistence. However, after a month or so, she had the needed signatures and paperwork into the city. And shortly thereafter, we had speed humps strategically placed up and down the road between our house and the school.

They have become such a natural part of the subdivision now that I sometimes do not even think about them. But when they stood out to me the other day when I was in a hurry, I had almost forgotten my wife had anything to do with them. When I remembered, I smiled. I thought about how neat it was that she had put her mind to it and got it accomplished, even though it was quite a project.

That is how my wife is. She decides what is going to be done and doesn't really care what logic says about it or what the odds are. She just figures that she is going to find a way to get it done.


There are other things she sets her mind to that don't happen, even when the odds are not nearly as stacked against the thing as they were with the speed humps. For example, she has a list, as I'm sure many people do, of things she wants to get done, many of which are things that she feels need to become daily habits. Some may be new years resolutions. Yet, unlike the speed humps, they never get conquered. One of those items has been, for nearly as long as I've known her, exercising. You would never guess it to look at her. She can eat whatever she wants and hardly gains a pound. Even after seven pregnancies and getting a bit older, she is still very trim and is very attractive. But she has never, in the 20 years I have now known her, made exercise a regular habit, even though for much of the time she has talked about it (for non-weight related reasons, such as overall fitness, strengthening a weak back, etc.)

I imagine we are all like that a bit. We get some things done that we put our minds to while others go unaccomplished. But not everyone has what it takes to get impossible things done with such persistence as does my wife.

So, what makes the difference whether something is a "speed hump" or whether it is an "exercise habit"? I wish I knew the answer to that. If someone can do anything they set their mind to, why do they then decide not to do some of those things, even after making a big deal about how they are going to accomplish something new.

It isn't ability. It isn't focus. It isn't strong will.

I think it has to do with who we care most about. The speed humps affected our children and others in the neighborhood. The speeding cars represented a current and future threat to our children. That is easy to rally around, to make time for, to beat the odds for.

But how about when it comes to ourselves? Do we care about ourselves as much as we do our children? Are we worth taking care of? Can we beat the odds for our own benefit?

Sound selfish? I don't think so. Fail to take care of yourself, and think about how many people will be worried, how many people will suffer, how much less good you will be able to do in the world.

But set those aside for a while. You are someone else's child. You come from parents, whether still living or deceased, who care just as much about you and your well being as you do about your own children. Would you do it for them?

You are a child of God who loves and cares about you and wants you to love and take care of yourself, whether emotionally, physically or spiritually. Would you do it for Him?

It's our choice--when things enter our minds that we know we need to do, that we even want to do or promise ourselves that we will do. But when are the times we treat them like "speed humps" and conquer the odds? And when are the times they conquer us?

If your answers are like mine, the person we most often let down is ourselves. We are the last to get much-needed attention. We suffer on with conditions that limit us while we go about trying to help others. But the concerning part is that it may have nothing at all about being self-less and service-oriented. It may have to do with refusing to do what it takes to take care of the one person who we ought to love because so many others dear to us depend upon-- ourselves.

The next time we drive over a speed hump, I hope it jars something within us to heal and nurture that part of us that is in the back of our minds as needing attention but always gets put on the back burner. For me, that is my weight and cholesterol. What is it for you? Whatever it is, I hope we can garner up whatever it takes to get it done and make it as lasting a part of our lives as the speed humps on the street between my house and the local school.