Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a minor car accident.  I was sitting at the church waiting to merge into traffic when a man who was working in the lot next to us backed into our parking lot and subsequently into the back passenger side of my car.  I did have time to honk three times and check to see if I could accelerate quickly onto the highway, but no such luck.  All of this is consequential, the reason I write this is because what impacted me must was how my level of reaction changed through the next 20 minutes.

It started as most people would react.  Anger and frustration.  As the van backed into me I was struck with the thought of, how can you not look out your back window when you're reversing.  After the impact he looked at me and I made what in my estimation was a critical error in character.  With his eyes locked on mine, and his mind already circling about how this happened and what he was going to say to his wife, the police and insurance company, I raised my hands shook my head and smirked at him.  No grace for the moment, no mercy over a mistake.  I got angry and I showed it.  Then I got out and felt foolish.  My countenance must have been quite impressive at that moment, a little dumbfounded by the accident, still angry at the man, and now ashamed of my initial reaction.

And then all I could say was, well I guess I'll go call the police.  I went back to the church slightly afraid that I was going to come back out and he'd be gone, also unsure of what to say, "Hi I need an officer at my church, some guy backed his van into my car as I sat waiting to merge, and I think I may have offended him."  No I didn't say that but I actually wanted to.

When I got off the phone I called my wife and told her all about it so she knew why I wasn't home for lunch.  I went back to the door, adjusted my coat and invited him in to keep warm.  I tried to make conversation with him, but I assume he felt ashamed as he wasn't answering my question very in depth at all, almost avoiding the situation as much as he could, wanting to be anywhere else but in the church with me, waiting for the police to come and take our reports.

After the officer arrived and we gave our reports I offered a good sense of care and a small amount of pity over the situation, and released him from my presence by saying, have a good day, I'll move ahead and let you go.  And I haven't seen him since.

So why blog here and not on my other site.  Because of the way my reaction changed so drastically in the 20 or so minutes of the encounter.  From anger and frustration to shame and guilt to compassion and care.  It had nothing to do with the church building, it probably didn't have anything to do with being a pastor at the church, or any church.  But it did have everything to do with God.

Conviction, relief, grace, love, compassion, care, hope and mercy.  How can a person run through this gambit of emotion and inner turmoil in such a short period of time concerning one person?  Easy, God intervened.  I wonder how far I would have gone if this had been a few years ago when I was nearing the burnout state of life, had a slight anger problem and couldn't see the need for grace and mercy.

But then I spent 6 months healing and refueling my life.  I felt a substantial amount of growth in that time, and I gained a compassion for people that I had previously not known.  God intervened and reintroduced me to the fact that I am created in his image, with part of his nature within me.  Be holy for I am holy.  What a profound statement.  And in that statement I find the reason that my reaction went from anger to grace.  God intervened and brought my spirit to a moment of realization that I was not being in any form, holy.

I am thankful for that moment, for God reminding me who I am meant to be, and who I am meant to be like, and even for the accident.  I would only hope that I can meet the man again, under different circumstances, maybe over coffee, discussing life circumstances, and why grace is so important.

Take it from me, every chance you get to show grace, use it.  And remember that you are instructed to be holy, because you are made in God's image, and His image is one of holiness.

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