The story of the Christian faith is the story of a journey, a pilgrimage where we are lost and searching to find a way home. Rather than finding our own way, it is God (in Jesus Christ) who finds us. God leads home all who follow. The journey home can be long and arduous, but the destination is well worth the effort.
My journey with bipolar has taken me down many long highways of life. At times, I have gotten lost trying to find my way through my days. Battling my moods, I’ve struggled to steer clear of the darkness in the ditches as well as the blinding lights headed toward me.
One time in college a friend of mine and I decided to visit a girl I had a crush on who was home recovering from an illness. We set out without an address, without her parents’ names, and without a phone number. All we knew is that she was somewhere in a country house in the general vicinity of Shelbyville, Indiana.
Loaded up with the foolish yet hopeful vigor of youth, fueled by mix tapes of folk and classic-country music, along with a full tank of gas, we headed north at about four in the morning, following the head lights leading us to God-knows-where. Neil Young serenaded us with “Long May You Run” (a song about his first car and last love) as my 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with the three-speed Indy shifter navigated the roads like she knew just where we were headed. Good thing she did, because we had no idea.
After many twists and turns, we arrived in downtown Shelbyville and found a mom-and-pop diner where we purchased two cups of coffee and one breakfast special to split between us (not having enough money for two). Over coffee, we developed our game plan.
There was a pay phone with a phone book dangling from a chain. We looked up her last name and found there were about a dozen options. We checked our pockets and had six spare dimes between us. The odds were even. But we were two smart young men with almost three years of college at “The Harvard of the Midwest” under our belts. We decided to use our deductive powers to narrow the choices. Looking at the ethnicity of first names (we knew they were Presbyterian, so they must be Scottish), the address listings (we figured they lived on a rural route) as well as “intangibles” (i.e. wild speculation), we made a list of the top six prospects.
The waitress brought us our breakfast special and we dug in like two men on a mission. When we finished, we looked at the clock on the wall. Not quite 7:00 a.m. We thought to ourselves, “Respectable people probably don’t make phone calls before 8:00 a.m.” We had little aspiration to be respectable people, but decided to wait an hour nonetheless.
At 8:00 a.m. sharp, I made the first call. A woman’s voice answered, “Hello.”
“Hello. Would this be the home of Laura Jacobs*?”
“This is her. May I ask who is calling?”
I explained who I was. Fortunately, she remembered me from various classes as we had the same major. It took a while to explain to her that I was with a friend in a diner just down the street and ask her if we might drop by for a brief visit. She seemed stuck on the refrain “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Around 9 o’clock we arrived at our destination. We visited for maybe 20 minutes.
I can’t remember, but I think we brought her a coloring book and crayons (thinking flowers might be too “forward”).
The pilgrimage was certainly a blessing. I think we encouraged her. My relationship with my friend was strengthened. A memory was made and the story could now be told. It was well worth the investment of fuel for my gas-guzzling Belvedere. And that breakfast special tasted just right.
*Name has been changed to protect her privacy and to preserve my dignity.