There's a game I like to call Roundabout Russian Roulette, wherein your car stalls right after you drive through a roundabout. You sit your car there in the left lane (right lane, for you), watch the bevy of cars come at you in the rearview mirror, and wait. The game ends either when a car hits you or a tow truck comes to rescue you. You can also forfeit the game by leaving said car, stranding it alone in traffic or in the hands of another player.
Well, I played Roundabout Russian Roulette for about an hour one day.
I tell myself it wouldn't have been so bad had Asher not been with me. Or if Matt had. Or if our mobile phone service had been working (on the morning it acquired another mobile company, thereby making it the most powerful phone company in all the land; the irony is not lost on me).
But the truth is, no matter how many players were in the game or what rules we had to play by (I couldn't even phone a friend!), I would've lost my crap anyway. And I did. I lost it. I mean crying hot tears of abandonment and ordering Jesus to HELP ME.
Asher, good sport that he was, kept his cool, offering occasional anecdotes and waving to the angry cars as they passed us by. "I love chicken nuggets," or "It just needs a battery," or "Why your phone not working?" My screams and abuse of the steering wheel didn't seem to alter his good mood in the least.
Sixty long minutes, many unanswered phone calls and one order of curly fries later (the ill-fated drive thru which precipitated this dangerous game offered me at least one consolation), Matt and the ever dependable Tom arrived. I passed the baton to the more able-bodied spouse, forfeiting my lot and speeding off with Tom, Asher and Cyclops (toy) to collect the big kids from school. Matt survived the game, too, when two hours post-hence a tow truck arrived.
And our car? Oh, it won the game of Roundabout Russian Roulette without a scratch. The actual diagnosis that left me stranded in the first place? IT RAN OUT OF GAS! In shame I hang my head thinking about it, though it did afford us some friendly ribbing from the mechanic and the minor cost of some labour and a full tank.
The only casualty in this game of dare was Matt's poor finger, the tip sliced off in the euphoria of post-victory dinner prep.
In hindsight, the finger now healing and the car back where it belongs, I remember how I literally demanded Jesus to help me.
How I hyperventilated and lost all the cool and level-headedness I ever had (not much to begin with, anyway). I remember how silent it was in the car, just me and the crying and heavy breathing, no discernible movement from God to coach me through. I would've preferred the loud grunts of Bela Karolyi in that moment to the holy silence that seemed to surround me. I remember the momentary relief in surviving one minor catastrophe only to replace it with another.
But, but... because you, Sister, are not here to lean on in these moments, we have no choice but to reach out for others. And they met us here, in spades. Tom and so many others, in prayers and school runs and trips to the ER and kindness, kindness, filling us to the brim.
It's such a small thing, to feel a brief bit of holy silence in a broken down car. It's such a big thing, to see Jesus in so many, running with us, towards the finish line.
I hope I can be that for the next one, whomever it is, when he or she is stuck in the game of Roundabout Russian Roulette. Hold me to it.