“Oh no!” I wailed, gripping the steering wheel, with my eyes locked on the rear view mirror.
“Mom, did you hit someone?” asked my son incredulously, from the back seat.
I opened the door and went to find out.
This is how my son later told the rest of the story: “After Mom got out of the car, I thought I heard ladies laughing. So I turned and looked out the back window. Yep. She and another lady were laughing. And then they started hugging. And I thought that was very weird.”
It was very weird to come around the back of the van and see my friend standing there with her dented car.
She and I have gotten to know each other over the last couple of years at church. We’re both Bible Study leaders, we live close to each other, and we love to go out for lunch once in a while. But I hadn’t planned to run into her at Costco. (Pun intended.)
Turns out we both have a similar philosophy on cars. We buy them used and drive them as long as possible. We have high deductibles and prefer to not get the insurance involved. And we’re not incredibly picky about our vehicles being spotless. Which is why we could laugh and hug each other in the parking lot after we backed into each other.
Now, I’ve been in accidents before, and I know that people don’t always hug or laugh. Sometimes they curse and snarl. And I think it takes more than just a common car philosophy to keep them from doing so.
I think my friend’s words are telling. She said, “I don’t think either of us was at fault. We just didn’t see each other.”
Do you hear what was behind those words? I think she was also saying, “I love you too much to let this come between us. I’m willing to call this ugly dent a small thing, for the sake of peace in our relationship.”
Wouldn’t it be great if other ‘collisions’ in the church could be settled this way? What if people could worry less about getting their egos dinged, and be more quick to say, “We just didn’t see each other!” What if we could give each other a hug, and laugh about our mistakes, rather than sulk or claim our rights or call in the pastor/officer. What if we could set aside fault, and say, “I love you too much to let this come between us.”
When two people collide, they each have a choice in how to respond. James puts it this way: