277. Adam Breaks Down

Saturday – June 7, 2014

My friends are awaiting my arrival in Mishawaka, and it has been a pleasant trip so far from the little town of Berne. The sun is shining. A bottle of coffee is within reach. Tribulation, my scrap heap of a car, hasn’t broken down yet. I feel cautiously optimistic. The highway curves gently to the left, flanked by weeds and picturesque trees.

Everything seems fine, but I’m not quite at ease. Things went badly the last time I took Tribulation for a long drive. It broke down, smoking like a cigar and reeking of melted plastic. My younger brother and I were left stranded on the highway in the searing heat, and I missed an important job interview. Trib has been repaired, but I’m reluctant to take it on any long trips.

I have to be honest. I’m not reluctantI’m anxious. I struggle with depression and anxiety. The last time I strayed far from my home, my car troubles only made these problems worse.

I’m touched my friends invited me to visit today, and I want to see them, but… I don’t want to go.

Well, I suppose it’ll be fine. I can’t let anxiety control me. It’ll be good to spend time with my friends. They’re wonderful. I miss them. This’ll be worth the trip, and Tribulation was just fixed—I doubt it will have more problems anytime soon.


Something that looks horribly like a deflated tire flies into my peripheral vision and vanishes. Tribulation jolts and bangs its way to a tired stop beside the highway. I hang my head, gripping the steering wheel. My heart sinks until it can sink no more.

Not again.

After putting on the brakes and hazard lights, I get out and survey the damage. Trib’s front-right tire has completely lost its tread—that must have been the fragment of tire I saw whizzing past my window. It tore off a strip of plastic from the door in its violent flight, leaving a scar of discolored paint and white plastic fasteners. The tire is ruined. My anxieties have been affirmed. It was a bad idea to leave home.

I phone my friends and let them know I won’t make it. I pray. I phone my younger brother to apprise him of the situation, and to ask him to pray. I phone my older brother to ask his advice. Things look grim. I’ve never changed a car tire before. My driving directions take me only to Mishawaka and back to Berne—without them, having to turn back, I’m completely lost. Oh, a police car is pulling up behind me. Fantastic.

An hour later, Tribulation limps to the nearest Wal-Mart on a spare tire the approximate size and shape of a doughnut. “Dash it, Tribulation,” I cry, striking the steering wheel. “Can’t I take you anywhere?”

Monday – June 9, 2014

I’ve been at work about an hour, and I’m frankly amazed I’ve lasted so long. I feel bad. No, I feel awful. I can’t remember the last time I felt so depressed. It’s all I can do to keep breathing, let alone deal with eight needy gentlemen.

The last time I worked, I was cursed and threatened and nearly smacked. Those kinds of behaviors are sometimes part of my job—occupational hazards. I’m not usually much fazed by them, but tonight is different.

Wait, what? We’re going to be short-staffed tonight? Of course. Oh, and we’re having an emergency drill? On top of everything else? Of course, of course.

What a fine shift this turning out to be.

Things are quiet for the moment, so I sit and bow my head and begin mumbling. “Father in heaven… I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I can’t do this. You must.” I add a few words, finish my panicked prayer and stand.

I’m going to make it.

Friday – June 13, 2014

Well, I’m home. This is my day off. There’s a pot of coffee on the desk beside me. Birds are chirping outside my window, the weather is beautiful and my younger brother is cooking sausages for breakfast. It may be Friday the thirteenth, a day of ill repute, but I’m feeling pretty good.

I made it.

When Tribulation’s tire was ruined on Saturday, I was quick to remember how my car had previously broken down. I was a little less quick to remember how God worked out everything all those weeks before. My car was towed to an auto shop and repaired, and generous relatives paid a majority of expenses. The interview I missed was rescheduled. My younger brother and I didn’t have long to wait until we were rescued. While we waited, I had coffee, cookies and a book to keep me going. Before any of our problems were resolved, God gave me and my brother courage, humor and a positive attitude.

My car broke down that day, but I didn’t.

Tribulation gave me trouble again on Saturday, but God made things right. I arrived safely home with two new tires at a pretty good price. My brothers were supportive and encouraging over the phone. My friends accepted my absence magnanimously. There was even coffee.

My tire was shredded; my nerves were not. My tire was ruined; my hope remained intact.

Even Monday’s paralyzing depression and daunting difficulties turned out not to be so bad. After two or three really bad hours, things improved. I felt almost recovered by the time I left work.

There are times I don’t feel well. Sometimes, I come uncomfortably close to breaking down. Depression and anxiety are frightful things, and it’s always easy for me to panic. I always remember the problems.

What I forget is the wonderful way my Father has never failed to resolve them.

I’m pretty bad at remembering things, but the faithfulness of God is something I’m trying hard not to forget.

5 thoughts on “277. Adam Breaks Down

  1. Love your closing statement. And the name of your car. Do you have any active ways you try to remind yourself to remember God’s faithfulness?

    • Yes, there are at least two ways I try not to forget the faithfulness of God.

      First, I recall specific events in which God worked to make things right — I mentioned a few of them in this blog post. Second, in a more general way, I remind myself of how far God has brought me. He has stuck with me through twenty-something years of travels and troubles and mistakes, after all, which gives me hope that he won’t give up on me anytime soon.

      My car’s full name is Tribulation Periwinkle, christened after a pen name of Louisa May Alcott. I’m beginning to wish I’d given Trib a more fortuitous name, like “Reliable.”

      • I like those ways. It reminds me of the Israelites. They weren’t so good at remembering God’s faithfulness, but I love the chapters where a prophet is reminding them of everything that God has done for them. We need to be our own prophets in that way.

        Indeed. I’ve noticed that characters, people, or things tend to live up to their names.

  2. It takes courage to discuss such personal struggles on a public website; I admire that courage. It makes people who struggle silently feel not so alone. Much thanks 🙂

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