A couple of years ago my wife Jackie and I were driving down to Biloxi, Mississippi to catch a Cirque de Soleil show at one of the local casinos. Biloxi is located on the Gulf Coast, and before the arrival of the big hotels and legalized gambling, one of its biggest claims to fame was being slammed by Hurricane Camille in August of 1969. Depending on who’s behind the wheel, the drive can take from four to five hours from Birmingham.
Okay, before I can continue I have to tell you about one of my pet peeves. A pet peeve is a minor annoyance that an individual sees as a major annoyance. Some examples of pet peeves are poor table manners, gum smacking, solicitors, and inconsiderate drivers. Have I struck a nerve yet? Are going down your mental checklist of pet peeves right now, reliving moments and situations, your blood pressure rising as you do?
Well, stop it; this is about my pet peeve, not yours. I just wanted to get you in the mindset of the aggravation that is associated with a pet peeve.
This peeve, this irritant, this annoyance, this aggravating, drives-me-up-a-wall thing that I want to tell you about is:
BUGS ON MY WINDSHIELD!
Go ahead, laugh if you’d like (it’s not that I could stop you anyway!). Look, I don’t even like a dirty windshield, much less one splattered with bug guts. I figure that God gave man the idea to come up with the little built-in windshield “water guns” and windshield wipers so that we can see where we’re going as we drive from destination to destination. You still think that I’m kidding, don’t you? I’m so bad that if I get into someone else’s car, and their windshield is covered with whatever, I’ll simply ask, “Somethin’ wrong with your car? Why don’t you use your window washer?”
Back to the story…
So we’re heading down I-65 South towards Mobile, Alabama, we’re making really good time, and I’m thinking “This has been an easy drive. We’re gonna get there early, so we’ll have some time to unwind and relax.”
There’s a bug on my windshield! I quickly reach for the button to activate the “wash-wipe” feature on the car. The water sprays, and the wipers begin to do their job. Whew!
Splat. There’s another one! My wipers haven’t even cleared the remnants of the first one…now there’s two of ‘em!
Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat. Splat.
No, I’m not exaggerating…it was that bad and worse! There was hundreds of ‘em. I kept hittin’ that wash button repeatedly, and, quite simply, my wipers couldn’t keep up with the bugs. Worse still was the fact that I could barely see what was ahead of me.
I started freakin’ out! And I’ll go ahead and admit it…I started cursing like a sailor! This only served to startle Jackie, who had been napping in the passenger seat. She was up like a shot, her spine board-straight, and her hands trying to find purchase on anything that may protect her from the impending doom! “What’s wrong?” she shrieked, terror in her voice.
“It’s bugs!” I shouted, my eyes never leaving the windshield, my fingers frantically hitting that button.
“WHAT?” Jackie questioned.
“Look at the windshield! Look at all the bugs! What the hell is going on?”
When I thought that things couldn’t get any worse, they did…the reservoir that holds the fluid to clean the windows ran dry! Now, the wipers are wiping, but there’s nothing to wipe, except for the bugs. I’m really starting to panic; I couldn’t see! Oh crap!
Thank goodness, it was about that same time that we made it through the “swarm.” I pulled off onto the shoulder of the freeway, parked the car, and got out to clean the windshield and assess the situation. There were cars parked everywhere, their drivers stepping out to do exactly what I was doing! Not wanting to sit there all day, I retrieved a bottle of water and a handful of napkins from the car, cleaned the windshield as best I could, and continued on to Biloxi.
(Upon our return to Birmingham I learned that we had run into a swarm of “love bugs”, which are members of the family of marchflies. The lovebug is common to Central America and the southeastern United States, especially the Gulf Coast.)
I believe that we all get bugs on our windshield from time to time; distractions that cloud our vision, cause us to veer from our destination, and stand in the way of us becoming what we are supposed to be. Perhaps, most importantly, they take our vision off of God. These bugs may vary in type and nuisance “level”, as is how much they aggravate us. Independently, they may not pose much of a problem…collectively, they can change the course of our lives.
I’m talking the “big bugs” that face many of us today, such as unemployment, health care costs, and dwindling retirement accounts.
I’m talking about the “little bugs”; things in life that we just have to overlook, like rush hour traffic, inconsiderate drivers, and those aggravating solicitors that call our homes after we’ve put in a hard day at work.
And I’m talking about the bugs that fall in the middle…bugs that have a way of sneaking up on us…that have a way of impacting our lives more than we may realize. Like the conversation that you’ve been putting off having with your friend that hurt your feelings…or that “situation” at work…or that escalating credit card bill…or those hideous numbers on your scale when you check your weight…or the life-lesson that you really need to share with your child…or that talk that you need to have with your boss…or the fact that you haven’t been to church in a while.
If you have a “laundry list” of things that you need to do and situations that need to be addressed, you’re probably having a hard time living for today, much less planning for tomorrow; and you’re probably not very happy with your life. And as you’ve probably figured out by now, life doesn’t come with a washer button and wipers! These bugs won’t magically disappear.
I made a list.
A few years ago I sat down to make my first “bug list.” My list contained everything that I’d like to get done that day, everything that I needed to get done that day, and all those things that I’d been putting off that should have been done the day before!
Here’s where it gets interesting…I put the one thing that I dreaded doing the most at the top of my list! I figured that if I could find the guts to do the hardest one, the rest would be a snap. I was gonna attack my list that next day, and I wasn’t gonna do anything else until I’d taken care of that first bug (a confrontation with someone that I’d been putting off for a long, long, time).
Life came to a screeching halt!
Two days came and went, and my list remained unchanged…and I have to tell you that with each passing hour that bug became bigger and bigger. Whereas before I could “forget” about the bug for brief periods of time, I found myself totally consumed by the thoughts of my inability to overcome my fear; which only served to make matters worse. One bug, one mental obstacle, became a barrier that I couldn’t go over, under, or around.
I awoke on the morning of the third day, tormented by my own conscience! Miserable in my own self-made “prison”, I turned once again to my list...staring at the paper in my now-trembling hands…looking at that thing (it had taken on an identity) that I couldn’t wish away. Closing my eyes, desperately needing some relief, needing a solution…
Dear God, I need some help with this. Would you give me the courage to overcome my fear and stand up for myself? This thing is eating me from the inside out…I know it’s something that I need to do…it’s something that I have to do…I just cannot bring myself to do it. Please, please help me.
I picked up the phone, dialed the number, and held my breath waiting for an answer on the other end, all the while hoping that there wouldn’t be one. There was. I exhaled and began talking…
four years later, and I’m still talking! Oh, I still have a list of things that I avoid doing from time to time…you know, more of those bugs on my windshield. And I still have to ask God to give me that shot of courage to get them done. Funny…He always does.
Look, life is full of bugs that cover our windshields. Why don’t you stand back and take a long look at yours…are you having a hard time finding your way because there’s just too much stuff in the way? Can’t really see where you’re going?
Make your own bug list. If you ask God to help you with it, I have a feeling that He’ll do exactly that. It’s amazing how much easier life is when you can see where you’re going…especially if He is your destination!
See you next week!