Friday, August 28, 2015

When the windshield seems to be winning

Originally written and recorded by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straights, and covered later by Mary Chapin Carpenter, I can remember hearing the tune come tumbling out of the car radio. It was 1991/92. I had been married for 15 years and had two young sons. We had just moved to Lynchburg, and were negotiating balancing the challenges of my medical career, shifting roles with Gary as "Mr. Mom," and trying to figure out how to get the youngest kid to sleep longer than 20 minutes at a time. Simultaneously, a business from back on the coast had to be sold, houses bought and sold, and layers of complicated logistics to figure out. Emotions ran the gambit: one day everything was fine, the next day was wrought with pressure-filled decisions. The Bug could have been our theme song.

Well it's a strange old game you learn it slow
One step forward and it's back you go
You're standing on the throttle
You're standing on the brake
In the groove 'til you make a mistake

(Refrain) Sometimes you're the windshield Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

You gotta know happy - you gotta know glad
Because you're gonna know lonely
And you're gonna know sad
When you're rippin' and you're ridin'
And you're coming on strong
You start slippin' and slidin'
And it all goes wrong because
(Refrain)

One day you got the glory and then you got none
One day you're a diamond and then you're a stone
Everything can change in the blink of an eye
So let the good times roll before we say goodbye because
(Refrain)

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
(repeat)


I've been revisiting that song as of late. In an odd way, it helps keep perspective. Mountain highs and valley lows. Great hurt, insult, and disappointment coupled with unexpected encouragement. An overwhelming sense of loss followed by a comforting cloak of belonging. Feelings of competency and expertise murderously machetted away until replaced by confirmation and acceptance. Reputations unjustly marred offset by a call to service and ministry elsewhere. It's a tough road trip to make. Windshield status feels pretty good. Bug status is messy.

I doubt I am alone on this journey. The circumstances may vary but I suspect to be human is to alternately be solid glass and smooched bug bits. The Psalmist David often wrote about this. Sure, no windshield on his chariot in a literal sense, but I think he understood. In Psalm 60 he pleads "God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. . ." The bug in him beckons.

But in his next song (Psalm 61) he pens, "I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken." Windshield status.

Psalm 63 and a rock-solid windshield: "God, You are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you. . .I meditate on you. . .because you are my help."

Splatted bugs come back in Psalm 64. "Hide me from the scheming of the wicked, from the mob of evildoers. . ."

Sometimes the transition between windshield and splatted bug guts happens nearly instantaneously. "LORD, how long will you continually forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?" But before the ink is even dry, David gains perspective, his windshield strong and clean. "But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. I will sing to the LORD because He has treated me generously" (Psalm 13).

Sure, sometimes I feel like the destroyed little bug, but thank God it doesn't stay like that. I will see clearly again. Drive on.

The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation [and windshield].
Psalm 118:14