By: Melissa Merrill
As we’re getting closer to the joys of the holiday season, I feel like I’m being reminded more of the approaching holiday shopping season.
We don’t have cable at the Fuller Center volunteer house so I can skip some of the commercials, but I can’t avoid the advertisements entirely. I still managed to hear that stores are opening at 5:00 pm on Thanksgiving to kick off the “black Friday” shopping, and stumbled across stories about people lining up a week in advance outside of stores near my hometown in Ohio.
I don’t claim to have it all figured out (maybe it’s actually fun to camp out in a parking lot in Ohio’s winter weather?). But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time on the road with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, it’s that we don’t need most of those things we buy on black Friday to really enjoy life.
For four summers now I’ve spent weeks at a time living out of a small bag, sleeping in places that may not have TVs or internet connections, and where it may even be hard to find a place to plug in my phone (although we always seem to manage somehow). At first it was a challenge—deciding what things I’d need and wouldn’t need for such enormous journeys, wondering how I’d feel wearing the same orange t-shirts over and over again all summer long—but soon those challenges were overshadowed by so many blessings.
Without all the distractions we have in “normal” life we find more time to spend with each other, creating bonds with our team that quickly begin to feel like those of family. We make connections along the journey reminding us of the beauty of God’s people; amazing church goers open their doors to us and cook us some of the most delicious, love-filled food we’ve ever eaten, road-side store owners we may have never otherwise stopped to talk to give us a free cold drink, strangers offer up a front porch in a rainstorm. We see and appreciate God’s creation from an entirely different perspective (somehow mountains just seem a lot bigger from the seat of a bike!). We take time to stop and help people who need a “hand up” with their leaking roofs, or owning a safe home where their kids can grow up, and we’re reminded to be grateful for the richness with which we are so blessed.
So, as the holiday shopping rush approaches, I can’t help but think of those blessings from summers spent on a bike and living out of one small bag. I’m sure I’ll still do some shopping in the coming weeks, and I don’t want to imply none of those black Friday deals are worthwhile, but I do want to invite you to shop for something that brings more joy than a new TV.
This year, help us turn black Friday a little orange-er! Sign up for the ride this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and we’ll send you some awesome orange gear to wear—a free t-shirt and jersey from one of the past adventures—and you’ll have an incredible journey of faith and love to look forward to next spring or summer.
Plus, we won’t even make you wait in line .