the bottomline

The Speed–Breakers of Life
Saturday, July 10, 2021 by Dan Allen

Do you get annoyed as much as I do at the speed bumps in front of grocery stores? I know why they are there—to protect munchkins and their parents as they enter or exit the store, as well as escaping grocery carts. Speeding vehicles, pedestrians, and rolling carts do not mix. But going over them is like a pothole in reverse. There have been times in which my car has not made it over or has stopped at the peak of the bump.

Some communities are now using them to slow drivers. I suppose they figure the cops aren’t going to patrol, so they will take things in their own hands. Often the bump is painted in bright yellow with a street sign stating: Speed Bump, Speed Hump, Speed Tables (I’ve seen all three). 

They are called “Speed Breakers” in one South Asia country I visit and are used to slow traffic on major roads. They, too, have a sign indicating the axle snare if the sign hasn’t been stolen, fallen off its post, or been run over by someone trying to avoid the breaker. One road we travel has 52 speed breakers in 50 kilometers. Why so many? Well, this major two–lane road runs parallel to a river. On the other side of the river are villages with bridges connecting them to the main road. Since they are not using stop lights (not enough electricity close by), and stop signs would be ignored, the speed breakers are there to slow–up the traffic. Vehicles coming from the bridge do not stop.  They just keep going. Someone has to slow down.

To say one breaker per kilometer is annoying would be an understatement. In fact, I challenged a native kid some years back to invent a way for vehicles to glide over the breakers without having to stop or slow down. We talked about a vehicle that hovers when approaching a bump or two sets of wheels on the front and back jostling or toggling over it. We’d make a mint if we came up with a workable solution. This kid, now ready to graduate from High School, came up with the perfect solution at least for himself. He’s becoming an airplane pilot. I’d like to think that my challenge played a role in his career choice.

There are speed breakers in life whose purpose is to slow us down and, perhaps, alter our course. Physical things, like a heart attack, play this role. Something is wrong and needs to be investigated and corrected. Forgetting important dates, phone numbers, a house address could be one of these breakers indicating that our mental capacities are slowing down. Various aches and pains have the same effect causing us to count the cost of an activity or we might pay the price later.

From a relational standpoint, “changes” are often the speed bumps we encounter. Changes in family relationships, lifestyles, and friendships should cause a pause and rethinking. Personal speed humps like diminishing finances or job loss might have us change directions. There’s emotional breakers like mood alterations and/or sudden depression. We’ve got to address these or they may fester.  Finally, there’s the spiritual pause that should assist us to reconsider our relationship to God. Christmas, Lent, Easter, and church revivals or challenging messages from God’s Word provide bumps in our spiritual journey affording us an intermission whereupon we can reevaluate our spiritual life.

Not all speed bumps are bad. In fact, they may save your life (physical, relational, emotional and spiritual), but they are often an irritant and a killer of axles and grocery carts when not handled with caution.


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