Last summer my dad did a high-endurance off-road motorcycle race in Idaho City. This race is notorious for being incredibly long and difficult. At first my dad was doing well, but after a while he hit a huge mud hole. His bike got stuck. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally dug his bike out of the mud and got going again.
Because he’d spent so much time and effort working to dig his bike out of the mud, he soon grew tired. The longer he rode, the more tired he got. Soon he was so discouraged he seriously considered quitting. Just then he rounded a corner and came across something unusual along the side of the trail.
Next to the trail stood a man frying bacon on a gas grill. This man greeted my dad and invited him to have some bacon.
“Bacon?” my dad asked.
“Have some. It will give you energy,” the Bacon Man replied. “You look tired. How are you doing?”
My dad candidly told the Bacon Man that he was struggling. My dad told him he was tired and wanted to quit.
“You know what?” the Bacon Man said to my dad. “You have the hardest part of the course behind you and you don’t have much further to go. Have some bacon and then go finish the race.”
My dad did exactly that.
My dad is not ashamed to admit that without the Bacon Man he would not have finished the race. All he needed was a little encouragement and the reassurance that the last of the race would be better than the beginning.
At some point or another, we all need a Bacon Man. We all need that random person to show up in a random place and give that extra support we need in order to keep going.
Today I sat in a room full of teenagers who have seen a lot of hard things in their lives. We talked about some of the emotions they feel as a result of some big changes in their lives. Several admitted that their dominant emotion was anger or frustration. One girl voiced that she did not feel special. One boy feels as though he has to constantly watch his back to avoid being beat up at school.
As I considered their struggles, I wondered to myself, “Where is the Bacon Man when you need him?”
Then I realized that perhaps I am meant to be the Bacon Man.
I don’t have much to offer. I don’t have a magic tool that will improve their relationships with their families. I don’t have a special potion that will make a twelve year old girl feel loved and special. There is no procedure I can perform that will implant hope in their souls.
But then again all the Bacon Man had to offer was a greasy slice of bacon and simple words of encouragement.
And that I can offer.