Opportunity

There are many things I miss about college, and one of them is free pancakes at the Presbyterian Center.

Every semester on the Sunday night before Exam Week, the Presby Center right by the WCU property line served all-you-can-eat pancakes and punch for free. The people were kind, and the building was filled with the happiness only pancakes can bring and the anxiousness that only comes with imminent exams. I went to the Pancake Dinner seven of my eight semesters there, and the last one was one of the most memorable.

I had been emotional for about two or three weeks when that Sunday came around. The week after it wasn’t just Finals Week, it was the final week. I was aware it would be my last Presby Pancake Dinner, as was my best friend Becca, whose brain has thought in terms of final events just like mine.

We were so excited and emotional that we arrived too early for pancakes.

Not wanting to go back to our dorms or just sit around for 15 minutes, we decided to take a nostalgic drive.

If you leave Western’s campus from the main entrance and go left, the road will eventually take you through winding curves and small towns and put you in South Carolina. The sun was going down, and I thought it would be nice to use its last rays for one last drive down that way. The we could turn around, come back, and cry in our pancakes together.

We drove down and turned around. On our way back, a loud noise similar to a flat tire happened on the passenger side of my car. I pulled over. Becca and I got out of the car. With the flashlight on Becca’s phone and the flashlight from my roadside safety kit, we investigated.

No flat tire. Not a single problem with any of the tires.

So we checked under the hood. There we found that the left edge of my steering belt had not only ripped right off, but had also wound itself around another part of the car. It became very clear very quickly that the situation could not be fixed without tools, which I did not possess. Becca called AAA for me while I called home to report the sad news.

If my mom or my brother had answered the phone, I would’ve been fine, but my sister answered the phone, and my heart sank.

I love my sister deeply. I really do. I’d take a speeding bullet in a vital organ for her without thinking twice about it. But if something bad happens, I’m not eager to tell her because she worries too much. I mean, too much. She stresses out about almost everything.

I hardly ever truly worry. I’ve developed the habit of rarely worrying about things I can’t control and hating myself on the occasions that I do. I plan out a course of action, maybe two, to what I can of the situation and leave the rest up to God.

My sister got worked up about my car and even accused me of not taking the situation seriously because I was choosing to be lighthearted about it all instead of freaking out. I told her the plan and that I would keep her and the rest of the family updated. Then I got the blanket from my roadside kit, covered up in it, and sat in the car with Becca, waiting and eating the chocolate chips she’d bought to put on her pancakes.

We thought we’d have to wait at least an hour (more like two) as the AAA man was coming from Asheville. Long before then, however, came a nice and capable guy named Derek (Same as my brother. Ironic, huh?) in a truck that had both a toolbox and a cute dog in it. He was kind enough to look at my car and fix it for me. He wouldn’t accept any monetary payment for the job he did. I was so overcome with gladness and gratitude that I asked him if I could give him a hug. He laughed and said yes, so I did. Then we said goodbye, and he left. Becca called to tell AAA that the visit wouldn’t be necessary while I reported home. Then we left to laugh at the situation over free, delicious pancakes.

(Just as I had never seen Derek before, I haven’t seen him since. If by yet another miracle you’re reading this, Derek, I’d like to thank you once more. Really, I’d like to hug you again from just recalling the story, but I’m afraid a simple written appreciation will have to suffice here. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re just lovely.)

We’re often presented with opportunities to exercise our faith, although they aren’t always so grand as your car breaking down right as night arrives and only six days before your trip home. Sometimes these opportunities are as small as believing that God will make your bad day better or that He’ll relieve the pain from your hangnail. On the other hand, sometimes they’re gigantic, like believing He’ll help you make rent and have a place to live or that He’ll make sure you don’t fall into your old, bad habits and way of life.

I’ve come to realize that bad things are going to happen to us. They just are. They’re going to happen regardless of whether or not we have faith. Then why shouldn’t we have faith? Aren’t the chances of us turning our awful circumstances and problems around significantly better with faith than they are without it? And really, what do we have to lose from just believing and being positive?

It would’ve been easy for me to put or pace around in circles about my car. I love my car. His name is Bartholomew, and we’ve been having adventures together for five years now. He was my ride to and from college, and he was for a few other kids who lived in the area as well. It would’ve been terribly easy to worry.

But as much love and faith as I have in Bartholomew, I have even more in God. I knew He wouldn’t leave me stranded on the side of the road. Whether it was with the help of a AAA employee, a kind soul like Derek, or God Himself guiding my own hands, I knew Bartholomew, Becca, and I would be out there before the night was over.

The other opportunity as seen in my story is the one to give out a little faith. I’m eternally grateful for Derek and what he did for me, and I’m sure many (if not most or all) of you have a similar feeling towards someone who has gotten you out of a jam before. And I’d just like to encourage you to be that for someone else. Maybe you’ll restore their faith in humanity. Maybe you’ll restore their faith in God. Either way, you’ll both be better off for it because God rewards those who demonstrate His love and grace. Even if it’s as small as buying someone’s lunch for them or giving them a ride somewhere. It could mean nothing to you, but it could mean everything to them.

Life is largely opportunities and consequences leading to other opportunities and consequences. What we choose to do with those opportunities will determine the path our lives take. Will you choose to condition yourself to automatically worry about something or to calmly hand it over to God? Will you choose to repeatedly restore people’s faith or will you become part of the problem because you’re not part of the solution? Never underestimate an opportunity and always make the most of one.

By Carrie Prevette

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