I think it’s time for a refresher course in Drivers’ Ed. I have made it tenish years as a driver with no major accidents (other than the time the deer literally ran into my car). Though I hate driving, I had prided myself on being a decent (if not overly cautious) driver. Then, in the past two months, I have had two minor incidents. (I think there’s a proverb about pride that applies here).
First, I swiped the side of our car on our mailbox. Our own mailbox! Then yesterday I was pulling into a parking lot. I found a spot sooner than expected, though the car on the driver’s side was parked a bit close to the line. I intentionally took these factors into account and pulled slowly in.
Then I heard a crunch. I had hit the back bumper of the car on the passenger side of me. I quickly backed up and readjusted (wishing I had done it sooner) before driving quickly away.
No, of course I didn’t drive away! You can admire my courage for that, but in the next second, you’ll see that I actually have no courage as I called my husband to rush over from work and handle the whole thing. Yeah, I’m that girl.
I decided that I should never go anywhere ever again. I hate going out. I hate driving. It makes sense that I should stay home all day every day. I must be punished, and I must protect the cars of the world from my inability to drive.
I was so mad at myself. And I’m still mad at myself. My husband was so understanding (though he had every right to judge because he’s an excellent driver), and kept saying, “It was an accident. Accidents happen to everyone.”
But I said, “No! It’s not an accident! It was my fault. I did something wrong. I am so sorry. It was stupid.”
Then I looked up the definition of accident:
an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury
Maybe it is an accident, but I want to know why it happened. I want to be punished. I want to make sure it never happens again. I will keep apologizing and apologizing. I want to go back and have my good driving record. I don’t want to need the kindness and grace of others.
On the way home, I was frustrated with myself and–to be honest–it crossed my mind that God could have stopped it. I only overshot by an inch or so. Why couldn’t he have taken care of it? I hate to confess this because it seems so petty, but there it is.
As I pulled off the interstate thinking this, a car flew up in front of me, and I was barely able to stop in time. My car shook from the quick stop. And I realized, “God watches out for me far more than I deserve. There are so many accidents that almost happen every day–toddler dangers I didn’t see, falls and bumps, terrible drivers (of whom I am now one), storms. God’s grace is so often restraining the awful things that happen in the world.
The Fall brings pain and chaos–sickness and sadness and frustration and death. That’s what I deserve because as the old children’s primer says, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” The world is a broken place because of man. But we see God’s restraining hand–his grace–in all the goodness that pierces this darkness. And we see his hand in the grace that sent a Savior who starts to undo this curse.
I want to polish this off and say this accident-that-was-totally-my-fault-and-I-am-to-blame is a lesson in grace for me. But honestly, I struggle. I have a harder time when I do something that I consider “stupid” than when I speak unkindly to my husband or live in pride and selfishness. I thought I was past this point, but it seems I still take my mistakes more seriously than I take my sins.
So I’m working on how to be okay with messing up–to realize that it is a part of life not to be perfect (though I try, I try, I try). And I’m working on taking my sin seriously so I can see the seriousness of God’s grace–how beautiful and grand it is.
I am still mad at myself for hitting that car. I don’t like the financial cost–or the emotional one. I don’t like being humbled by how sweet my husband was to me or how encouraging my sister and dad were. I want to be strong and not in need. I want to bury my head in my pillow and stay there forever (see, I told you I have a lot of courage).
But living in the world means I will make mistakes. There will be those unintentional incidents that result in harm. I will also sin. The comparatively minor guilt and cost of the first should make me see how truly costly God’s grace is for the second.
And the mistakes I make remind me to be thankful–thankful it’s not worse, thankful we can take care of it, thankful that I wasn’t really tempted to drive away, thankful for the kindness of strangers and family, and thankful for all the accidents that don’t happen.
I guess if this car stuff wasn’t costing so much, I could afford to go back to Driving School. Feel free to donate to my Driving School fund; it could be an investment for you. I should also point out that no mailboxes were actually harmed in this story. How are those things so tough?!