Reality TV can be a bit like watching a train wreck. I was recently reminded of a show that was almost literally just that. It was a show about 18-wheelers needing to be rescued. While I wasn’t the one with the remote that day and didn’t anticipate being pulled into the drama, I was surprised at the real life nuggets of wisdom tucked into a reality TV show about tow trucks.

The reality of their situation:

On the show several men intensely plotted to a rescue of an 18 wheeler that was precariously perched on the side of a deep ditch. Two tow truck operators worked with a small crew carefully placing hitches with cables to the wayward rig hoping to get the truck back up on the road without further damage or loss.

“Stay right there,” the leader said to one of the workers. “Listen and watch the back wall (of the truck).” He explained that as they worked, the load could shift and rupture the side of the truck, risking loss of the full load and the truck itself.

Fighting the fading daylight, the crew knew time was precious. Their rescue effort would only grow harder if night settled in. The truck moaned loudly as the cables drew tight. Steadily the cranks grew tighter inching the truck towards the road. The one worker continued to watch and listen while the other workers pulled it closer to safety. As the weight shifted, the truck let out a few ominous sounding creaks and thuds before it came to stop upright at the side of the road, success!

I have to admit, while it wasn’t a show I would have picked, I found some great wisdom in that rescue. In life, we make missteps that take us off course. We get distracted. We make mistakes. Maybe we’ve even started and stopped our progress so many times that we wonder if we’re doomed to live life off track. In the show, we’d never expect the trucker to give up and leave his truck in the ditch. His truck, his load, and his job are all too valuable. In life, we are too valuable. You and I both are too valuable to let ourselves wonder off course and not get make adjustments to get us back where we need to be.

A few nuggets of wisdom from my unlikely source:

1. Recognize you’re off track.

I know, it sounds obvious, but as soon as the trucker realized something was wrong, he stopped. He didn’t pretend everything was fine and try to continue moving forward. As long as he was off course he needed to make a correction before moving forward. In life, sometimes the next thing we need to do is stop. We need to recognize when we’re off course and maybe even in a figurative ditch. We need to refuse to pretend everything is fine so that we can pursue a course correction.

2. Accept help.

Just like the truck driver couldn’t get back on track on his own, sometimes we need help too. And, that’s ok! Call for help. Accept help. Our help may come from a supportive friend, a spouse, or a maybe counselor or support group. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

3. Change is a process – focus on the small steps.

Just like it took the tow crew time for each methodical step before the truck could carefully be pulled from the ditch without causing further damage, we need to recognize getting back on track is a process for us as well. Don’t focus on the entire process or become overwhelmed by the length of the journey or how many steps you need to take. Instead, remember progress can be made focusing on one step at a time.

4. Rescues are time sensitive.

The crew on the show was fighting daylight. They knew the implications and risks associated with not completing their efforts before nightfall. In life, getting back on the right track is time sensitive. The longer we’re off track, the greater the risk and the increased damage. The dangers to our health, finances, or relationships are very real. Don’t waste precious time once you’ve realized you’re off life’s path.

5. Be accountable.

One of the tow crew’s jobs was to watch the side wall of the truck and listen for the load shifting. His job wasn’t fancy or high tech, nor did he need a lot of tools. Instead, his job was to monitor and alert the team if something they did caused a problem. When we’re trying to get back on track, we need someone like that on our “crew” someone who will watch and listen, and even shout if our choices or steps will cause damage or a setback. By them holding us accountable, we’ll get back on track and avoid further damage.

Your Turn:

Before seeing a bit of the tow truck reality show, I’d never given much thought to how much effort it takes to get a tractor trailer back on track. Pulleys, a crew, and a really big tow truck all worked together with precision care.

In life, we can get off track. The ditches along our life journeys are real and many are deep. We’re not meant to navigate “recovery” alone when we slide off course. Accept help. Identify your crew. Take the small steps and find trustworthy people to hold you accountable.

What do you do when you find yourself off track? What helps you get back on track and stay motivated? I’d love to hear from you! Have a great week!

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