The other day I was riding my bike on the green belt and my chain came undone. I skidded my feet on the sides of it to slow it down and hopped off my bike to fix it. I fidgeted with the chain for about a minute when this older couple walked towards me. The older gentleman reached towards my bike and asked if I wanted help, almost like he knew I was going to say yes before I responded. Before I could answer, his wife stepped in and helped me brace the bike while her husband yanked at the chain to try to get it back on the wheel. We struggled with it for a few minutes when a younger couple walked by us. The gentleman stopped and asked, “Are you guys doing alright?”
“Yeah, my chain is just being difficult!” I responded. Without having to say anything else, he quickly intervened and flipped my bike upside down. And there we stood, a group of five strangers playing mechanic on my obnoxiously bright yellow bike. Within 30 seconds of our combined efforts, my bike chain was reattached and the problem was solved. The younger gentleman brushed his hands off with a subtle but triumphant look of joy. I thanked the group for stopping to help me and they all expressed that it was no big deal and that they were happy to help. And just like that, we all parted ways and I carried on with riding my bike.
As I rode away, all I could think was “practical love”. Stopping to help someone fix their bike chain isn’t an extravagant and profound expression of love…but it is practical and sometimes practical is very powerful. I kept playing the scenario back in my head–thinking about four strangers and myself gathered around my bike, problem solving. I thought about how quickly we were able to fix it when we collaborated. And then, I thought about how it was a sweet and simple picture of what the bonds of humanity should look like–stopping to help others, being kind, taking time out of your day to support others–because doing that actually is a really powerful expression of kindness, which translates into love.
I loved working through this predicamate with these strangers, because it was a great way to be reminded that were not in this alone and that we can lean on each other. Man, that’s the joy of being apart of team human! Sometimes it’s extravagant and profound [love], but sometimes it’s so simple and so practical. Either way, it is self sacrificing, outside of oneself and lends to the needs of others. Practical love is powerful love.
To the random strangers who helped me fix my bike chain–thank you! Your simple acts of kindness change the world.
“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” 1 John 4:11-12 [MSG]