24 May 2011

One Strict Rule

I passed a hitch-hiker the other day on my way home.  I immediately felt an urge to stop and give him a ride, but just as quickly I remembered one of my few hard-and-fast rules in life:  don’t stop for hitchhikers.

In some ways it seems to be a contradictory rule in my life–after all, I try to focus on serving other people and doing things for others.  And I used to pick up hitchhikers and give them rides all the time.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

But then I read too many articles about people who had picked up hitchhikers who ended up being robbed or murdered.  From experience I know that being next to someone you don’t even know in a very small space can be awkward and even dangerous.  And I also started thinking about my wife and step-kids, and how it would affect them if I were to become a victim of someone to whom I gave a ride.

So I made a decision one day:  I won’t pick up hitchhikers.  It was a firm decision, and one that I’ve stuck to.  And while I have very few strict rules in my life, this one seemed to make very good sense on many levels.  I prefer to let life and its situations flow on their own and to deal with things as they come up, but I didn’t like the vulnerable situation in which I put myself when I would give someone a ride.

I think that we all need some hard and fast rules in our lives.  Not all that many, but ones that feel right in our souls, in our hearts.  Like not to cheat on a spouse, or not to abuse a child, or to pray for people who can use our prayers, or to share what we have with others.  Life is always changing, and not all rules fit all situations, but we can help ourselves by making sure that when it comes to some things we never even have to agonize over what we think we should do, for the decision already has been made.  If we’re careful about what those decisions are, then we can take away a lot of doubt and anxiety, and add a lot of certainty in situations in which certainty may be helpful.

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