Last week, we went on a week vacation to Puerto Vallarta with my wife’s family. It was a nice time of relaxing and building fun memories as a family. We flew through the jungle on zip lines, swam in the beautiful hotel pool, walked along the beaches, and rode horses over rocky hills to a water fall. Every day, we ate lots of tasty Mexican food, even though fish tacos were much harder to find than I remember from past trips to Mexico.
While there are many good memories from this trip, the last night brought some pain and will leave a mark for a long time.
I raced my 4-year-old niece, Amanda, down the hall to the elevator at our hotel, pushing just hard enough to make her run her little heart out. Just before arriving at the elevator, I leaned down hoping to edge her at the last second. The wall that that jutted out at an angle just before the elevator halted my progress. At the same moment, my head and toe crashed into the corner of the wall. Stunned momentarily, I paused before saying, you win to Amanda.
Then I felt the blood on my eyebrow. “Oh no, what did I do?” began the thoughts in my head. Later we found out the corner didn’t budge in the slightest, a steel reinforced corner for the elevator, but my shoulder that smacked into the drywall next to the corner left an imprint. I don’t even remember my shoulder whacking the wall. Of course, I had to be the one getting hurt on our vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Then a wave of regretful thoughts raced into my mind. I felt so bad for slowing everyone down as we were on our way out to a nice dinner. That’s right, I was delaying dinner. How could I be the culprit for halting our progress to any meal, especially dinner?
I tried to keep my niece from knowing what happened, but when Christina was wiping the blood from my forehead away in the bathroom, Amanda wanted to know what happened. I didn’t want her to think it was her fault. I was the one recklessly running down the hall not carefully using my cane to warn me of impediments in my path. I ran the hall several times earlier with her without damage, but this time I ran into a wall gashing my forehead. Usually, I bounce off the walls just holding my head for a few moments. This one left a mark. Fortunately it just took a well placed butterfly bandage to hold the cut closed. However, the bandage leads to plenty of questions and just as plenty of new story opportunities.
After the initial thoughts of regret and disappointment in myself for hurting my head, reflecting more introspectively what I did, I pondered if I should rethink how I go about life. As expected, the thought of slowing down and being more cautious came to mind, almost in the form of a rebuke. Something like you idiot, how could you be so careless. Use some restraint and wisdom before you go flying down a hallway. Then I thought, man, I zipped down the jungle mountains on zip lines, climbed rocks at the waterfall, slid off the rocks into the pool at the base of the waterfall, and then whack myself in the head on the way to dinner. How ironic.
I answered those thoughts by telling myself that the zest for life that makes me connect so well with my energetic, fun loving niece so well has shaped me into the person I am. My passion for life and not holding back out of fearful caution allows me to step out, grabbing the zip line and jump not knowing how I will land on the other end of the 1,600 foot cable. The love for living life to the fullest gives me memories of sliding down a waterfall not knowing where I would end up after I was pushed forward by Christina’s brother, Jonathan.
More than that, my willingness to step out and go for it, a couple of cliché’s that mark my personality helps me accomplish the calling God has on my life. Living in Bangkok doesn’t come easy. The sidewalks are difficult to navigate for sighted people considering the obstacles, potholes, and uneven paths. The busses and boat taxis don’t come to full and complete stops, you just hop on and off as they slow down at the stop (maybe they should call them something other than bus stops). Trying new food, living in new cultures, meeting new people, these often threaten people’s sensibilities. Many are not able to do this well. That doesn’t mean I am better than another. We are all called to different arenas and work. But we are all called to something and following God is one step at a time. I just know my steps end up being out of the ordinary in a far different place than Chicago or Southern California where I am accustomed. I am willing to put my foot out there and take the step toward God’s leading. I’ll bang my head every now and again, sometimes my fault and sometimes not, yet God will always be there to hold me together.
We are not all designed or wired with a reckless abandon. When I was 4-years-old, my mom thought I needed a crash suit to protect me from all the walls I ran into, and I could see then. One time, fell down the basement stairs exploring the different doors and hallways in my house. Another time I thought it would be fun to go down the laundry shoot and land on all the clothes. I accumulated my share of bumps and bruises. But that was me.
You be you to the fullest intent that God designed you. That’s my takeaway from this incident and many previous accidents before this. Live my life to the fullest. We all have different lives, so let’s live them out fully.