Out of Gear

I have joked at times about how handy I am during an emergency. And I really am. It’s like I slip into a “crisis gear.” I’m totally calm and able to think clearly. Things that would normally turn my stomach—like blood and vomit—don’t phase me at all. I’m the strong one. A rock.

It’s the little stuff that gets me. Am I alone here? How come a paper cut hurts worse than a gash? And a teeny, tiny splinter in the bottom of your foot? Tell me that doesn’t make you limp like you’d broken your leg.

Monday night when I stopped for gas on my way home from work, I thought I noticed that one of my tires was a wee bit low. It wasn’t low enough to be able to really look at and tell. I thought about getting out my pressure gauge and checking the tire pressure, but it was melty hot outside. I just wanted to get home. But Tuesday morning when I got ready to leave for work, it was obvious that my tire was losing air. When my friend, Tommy checked my tire for me, this is what he found:

Tiny, isn’t it? (The nail, not the nickel. The nickel’s just so you can see how small the nail is.) But it did pretty big damage. Thank goodness my friend was able to pull it out of my tire and patch the tire for me. If my friend hadn’t helped me, I could have ended up stranded on the side of the road—which is not fun at all when you drive mostly country roads and when the heat indices are brushing the stratosphere. (I think we got up to 116 today.)

So, back to my point… It’s not the big stuff that knocks me down. It’s the little stuff. Maybe I didn’t pay a bill on time or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep for a couple of nights. A handful of people got snippy with me on the phone at work. Yes, I confess that sometimes, it can take as little as a facial expression or a tone of voice to ruin my entire day.

For the first half of this year, I was in “crisis gear.” I had to put out fires left and right, on an almost daily basis. My adrenaline was flowing and I was doing pretty well. But once camp ended at the end of June, I came out of gear. I didn’t know how to cope. I was constantly grumpy and was growling or panicking over the smallest issues. The easy, regimented groove I had been in since the beginning of the year was gone and I couldn’t find my groove again.

Because I’m me (stubborn, pig-headed, determined to be strong and work everything out by myself) I wasn’t really asking anyone for help. I was just kind of grappling with it myself and mostly losing the battle. Most nights, I was ending up curled in my Grandma’s old armchair in my bedroom, crying.

What snapped me out of it? Funny enough, a friend called needing my encouragement. I encouraged her and didn’t even tell her the emotional turmoil I’d been going through when she suddenly took a hard left turn in the conversation.

Sarah, you’re okay. You’re doing real good. You’re okay and don’t you let anybody—even yourself—tell you any different! Ya hear me, girl? You’re okay!

It was exactly what I needed to hear to begin to put things into perspective. I really am okay. I need to keep reminding myself of that. And the little things—the nails in the tire, the splinters in the bottom of my foot—they can be solved one at a time and at the end of the day, I can curl up in the chair and find peace there.

About Sarah Salter


  1. this is very encouraging.
    and it’s so wonderful to just have someone say things like that.

  2. Uncle Lee says:

    Good one Sarah. You are alright. We love you. Keep that smile on your face, others need it and look to you for it.

  3. I love that someone needing your encouragement snapped you out of it. I know exactly what you mean with that. Great encouragement today, Sarah. Thanks!

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