Potholes, Speedbumps, and Messy Grace


There is a new hum in my van you can hear when I accelerate. I’m not a mechanic by any means, but from what I can tell, something got a little loose near the muffler and so now there is a vibration that rumbles through the car, reminding me I have yet another stack of cash to give to a mechanic.

It’s not surprising it happened. Our city is plagued by potholes and it seems for every crater in the road there is a speedbump to match it. One does not simply drive down a side street in Chicago; it is akin to playing a video game. Avoid pothole. Try not to hit the parked car on the right side or the car coming past you on the left side even though the streets were decidedly not made to fit four modern day vehicles across. Look out for pedestrians. And by all means don’t hit the dozens of cyclists that are whizzing by you on the right (and sometimes on the left, or across, but I digress). But as difficult as it can be to navigate the streets, you quickly become accustomed to it. You anticipate the problems and keep a few extra bucks in the bank account for the inevitable repair.

My husband recently travelled in Atlanta and mentioned how much he loved the city. Was it the warm weather? Yes, but that wasn’t it. It was the driving. He quickly noticed the lack of potholes and realized the difference, how easy it was to just drive down smooth streets. It was a luxury.

I’m in a season of life where even the shortest, most routine day leaves me white knuckled, holding my breath, wondering if the bottom is about to fall out. I bet you know what I mean. It could be a notice from the school about a situation on the playground. A message from the doctor to come in and talk about those test results. The friendships which had previously been on cruise control suddenly taking a hit.

I’ve been in that place longer than I care to admit. If it isn’t the potholes that get me, then there are speedbumps thrown out at the most inconvenient times. Just when I think I am getting somewhere, starting new routines, creating healthy boundaries, taking care of myself, and prioritizing my creative endeavors a huge speedbump gets thrown my way. “Not so fast!” life seems to say each and every time.

Sometimes I dream of moving out to the country. Finding a large piece of land where I can hang out with barn cats, chickens, and maybe even a goat. Where we spend our days planning where to put the apple trees and figuring out how many rows of carrots we should plant. A place where the kids can run wild and free and all roads are all freshly paved. In my fantasy, the house is always clean and we eat outside in warm weather where there are no bugs – just twinkle lights. Relationships are easy. Lots of cups of coffee on the front porch. There is always time to share a meal and we are all able to stay connected. The mornings are spent writing while the kids play on the tire swing and my evenings are spent with a cuppa tea and a good book.

But that’s a fantasy. It’s not the life I’m called to; it’s not where I am meant to be. For now, I’m here in the land of potholes and speedbumps. Where grace is messy and the dust from the city quickly settles both on my living room floor and on relationships. Where there is constant upkeep and work. Where the bottom can fall out at any moment, but it can also miraculously be put back together. It’s a life where you know the mess in your life is also the mess in your friend’s. It’s where loving your neighbor isn’t something you talk about but is just something you do. Because we are all in this together with potholes, speedbumps, and messy grace.

Brenna D'Ambrosio
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