Back in March, I was in a pretty scary car accident. It shook me up badly enough that I never posted on social media about it. I didn’t take a selfie with the paramedics, police officers and firemen who all showed up. There were no passive aggressive tweets about people using their phones and running red lights. I was just thankful that all five of my children who were in the car with me came home that day. I have lived long enough to know that is not always how these things turn out.
For quite a few weeks, I was really angry with the other person. I could still hear the sound of her hitting me at 45 mph and the screams of my children as our car was knocked sideways. I was furious that I was suddenly fearful every time I got in my car. But that isn’t the feeling that lingered.
I also felt extremely grateful that a witness stopped and waited for an officer to arrive. She confirmed that I had not done anything wrong. I knew, otherwise, it would be a he said / she said situation and those are never fun. Even that feeling, however, faded.
Then, as the days went by, I was anxious all the time. It suddenly occurred to me that I could do everything right… Now, I’m not speaking of moral perfection or anything of the sort. Only that I could do everything I was supposed to do at that moment. I could obey the traffic signals, stay in my own lane, be completely undistracted. Yet, even then, in the blink of an eye, things could go terribly wrong. Thankfully, the anxiety has also lessened.
What I’m left with, ten weeks later, is the memory of one particular individual. And it’s not the person who hit me or the witness who lingered to help.
As I sat there, in the middle of a major intersection trying to get my wrecked vehicle out of the way with a crying 3-year-old and other scared children and trying to put the pieces together and figure out what exactly happened, someone sped past me and blew his horn. He blew his horn at me and waved his hands in frustration because I was in his way.
Because I was in. his. way.
As if, friends, I was lingering in the middle of the intersection and blocking oncoming traffic for fun. As if that was how I envisioned my day going.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him and wondering, “How often do I do that?” How often do I come across someone who has experienced trauma and all I can see is how it may inconvenience me. Do I see people in bad situations and think they must want to be there?
That man did not see women and children who had just been in an accident and who were in shock. He saw a random car blocking his entrance into Starbucks and it annoyed him. He didn’t see the situation for what it truly was.
In 2 Kings 6:16-20, there is a battle taking place. On two separate occasions, Elisha prays that the Lord would open the eyes of the people involved so that they may see the situation as it truly was.
Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17
Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men…” 2 Kings 6:20
This has been my prayer in recent days – that the Lord would open my eyes to the hurts and needs around me. That I would truly see the people.
That person who stops to talk to you as you’re leaving the church? Just maybe they’re more important than being first to the buffet.
The lady sitting alone at that group event? Perhaps, you should take your introverted self over and sit with her.
That guy who has found himself in the pit again? He’s not there for fun.
Open our eyes, Lord. Forgive me for the times I have passed someone in pain and threw my hands up in annoyance because I was more concerned with my latte than with loving my neighbor.
You are loved. <3