DING!! I was headed down I-95 last Saturday evening when my dashboard announced that one of my tires had low pressure. A couple button pushes showed me a readout with three normal tires, and the right rear down to 25. I drove on as it started to rain, and eventually watched it creep down to 24 psi. What to do? It was a slow leak, so maybe I could find somewhere to add air and nurse it along? I wasn’t super stoked about doing a tire change in the rain on the shoulder of a darkening highway… On the other hand, I also could not get excited about sitting through the Orioles game wondering whether or not I would have to call AAA to Parking Lot G at 11 pm.
I pulled into a truck stop, and tried to add air and realized I was somehow losing more than I was adding! So I found some cover in one of their fuel bays, swapped to the spare, and went on my way. I inspected the faulty tire the next day, and could find no nails, broken glass, or other causes of a slow leak – until I noticed that the valve stem was loose enough that I could push it in with my finger enough to let air out. That valve stem was only 2 months old, having been recently replaced after the last one cracked – but somehow the collar that held it in place was either not tightened up well enough, or had otherwise worked itself loose. That’s right; a loose screw was to blame for a hassle that could have been a lot worse!
It reminded me of another loose screw that caused a serious issue that was a lot worse. Back in April, a vendor delivered 275 gallons of chlorine into our tank at the pool without noticing that the screw-in fitting at the bottom of the tank was loose, allowing liquid chlorine to dribble out steadily. This led quickly to a medical emergency, a staff member being Life Flighted out on a helicopter, the guests in the Lodge being evacuated, and a 5 hour visit from EMTs, 2 fire engines, and the county Haz Mat squad. All because of a loose screw, on an $8 fitting…
This reminded me of another potential loose screw, also with the possibility to cause significant issues. Saying someone has “a screw loose” is a school yard insult, probably from a politically incorrect reference to a person with mental illness, that we would do well not to perpetuate. However, it could be a good metaphor for the state we find ourselves in when we have failed to attend to our own emotional health and are vulnerable to a big emergency.
This week at Family Camp, our life coaches are walking us through their story of how they discovered “loose screws” in their own lives, and how God has been using a resource called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality to begin to heal those areas. God has created us in His own image as emotional beings, but we generally spend more time attending to our physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth, and not doing much of anything to grow emotionally healthy.
We probably all know people that are emotionally unhealthy or immature and recognize they are an “incident” waiting to happen. But what about us? Great abs, great IQ, and great doctrine don’t count for much if our relationships with others are a disaster. God has given us emotions as a gift to help reveal what is going on in our hearts, so that we can bring it to Him for healing.
How can we actively pursue emotional health? Good question, that maybe you will join me in prioritizing. I understand it will take some effort, and some commitment, to work through points of past pain in our lives. But if the alternative is a blowout somewhere down the road, I like the idea of paying attention to those screws and tightening them up ahead of time.
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