Lessons from driving school

Today, I have the privilege of sharing a guest post with you. My dear friend Denise and I were childhood friends. Through the wonderful world of technology we have reconnected and she is a treasure in my life. After my story on grace she sent me this email below. I loved the story and found it to not only be full of grace, but her situation was one we can all relate to in one way or another. Thanks Denise!

I don’t know if my story is about grace so much, but your story reminded me of an encounter I had with someone. I had been taking an online traffic course at home to get out of a speeding ticket, and it is timed so you can’t just skip through it to the test. You have to stay on each screen for a certain number of minutes. I was taking it as fast as I could because I had to be at my son’s school for an appointment. Finally I finished, jumped in the minivan, and headed for the school.

We lived in Destin which is a tourist area – very crowded, full of drivers unfamiliar with the area. To get out of my neighborhood I have to turn left, which means I have to wait for the traffic on my left to clear, cross the street and then wait in the median for traffic on the right to clear. Sometimes the median is full of cars waiting to go both directions and can be quite a mess. I waited and watched as the car in the median in my way let several opportunities to go pass her by. I finally lost my patience and drove across the street and got in front of her. She honked and in my hurried, frustrated, angry state I rolled down my window and yelled, “I couldn’t wait all day for you to decide to go!” She said, “You should have gone around” (meaning turned right and made a U-turn). I shook my head and drove off.

Yes, I know, I didn’t learn a thing from that online driving school.

I was seething. Who was this woman to tell me how to drive out of my own neighborhood? You have to be aggressive to get across 98 in Destin! Otherwise you will never get anywhere!

When I got to the school, I immediately calmed down. I felt ashamed of my behavior. I had confronted this woman and might have even ruined her day. I might have upset her so much that maybe later in the day she would take it out on her husband, her kids, or make a costly mistake somehow because she was upset. I knew I had to apologize. From her car’s position in the median, I knew she was going to the medical center directly across the street from my neighborhood. After the meeting, I wrote a note and went to look for her car so I could put it on the windshield.

As I drove through the parking lot, who did I see walking but the very same woman. I pulled up next to her and rolled down my window. The look on her face – surprise, then anxiousness – made me speak quickly to put her at ease. I said, “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I know encounters like that can ruin your day, and I don’t want that to happen to you. I am so very sorry and would like to ask your forgiveness.”

She was surprised. She said, “My girlfriend said, ‘That girl is going to get herself killed.’” I said, “I behaved badly, I know. Here’s a note I had written you. I’m so very sorry. I just want the rest of your day to be good.” She said OK and took the note and away I drove, thanking God I had made the effort to find her and marveling that I did.

It did strike me that her girlfriend had been concerned with my well-being. I don’t know that I would have if the situation was reversed.

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We all need a little grace sometimes

Grace. We all need to give one another a little more grace. I attended a Christmas party this past December for a local home school group. I was feeling a little under the weather from the lingering effects of a bad cold…just the sinus fluid stuff that makes you feel like your head is a big marble rolling around on top of your shoulders. Truthfully, my ears felt full and throbbing. I had made the mistake earlier in the week of taking my blood pressure while I was feeling anxious, and naturally it was slightly elevated. So with every throb of my ear I sat secretly wondering if I was going to keel over from a stroke or some malady. Getting older, not old mind you, is not for the faint of heart. I am learning to not be a sissy, one breath at a time, one prayer at a time.

Anyway, I was placed in the 0-2-year-old room as a helper and very quickly realized I was not up to the challenge of the up and down, move around that goes with caring for little people. I asked to be moved. I was told to stick with my assignment and they would try to find a different place for me to complete my volunteer requirement. Fifteen minutes passed and I decided I would be fine playing with the little rug rats, but alas, it was too late – they were moving me to the teen room. As the other mom in charge of coordinating something walked me to the teen room, she walked at least 10 paces in front of me. My murmurs of where are we going and apologizing for the inconvenience were met with no response.

I walked into the teen room feeling like a little kid who was being taken to the principal’s office. I sat in my newly assigned room, dejected and internally grumbling. She could have shown a little grace. She could have said some pleasantries to put my mind at ease. Doesn’t she know how awkward I was feeling? Couldn’t she tell what an effort it was for me to even come? Pitiful thoughts about poor ME were swirling around in my mind.

Then it hit me. What about the kindness, the courtesy I could have shown her? What about how she was feeling about rearranging classes on her feet? After all, I was one of at least forty home school moms in attendance. It wasn’t her job to know I was struggling with being forty-five years old, thirty pounds overweight and not coping well with a sinus infection, which was really just a symptom of not coping well with not feeling as young as I would like!

So with my shift over and moving on to the next event in the party’s schedule, I was grateful I bumped into her in the hallway. I thanked her again for bailing me out earlier. She smiled warmly and said she was processing the situation when I first approached her, juggling a million thoughts in her brain, but that it all worked out in the end. I was glad we had another encounter. Not because I left the party feeling like I had made a bosom friend or even a friend. But it encouraged me to make that deeper connection, even if only for a moment, past either of our quick and hasty judgments of one another.

Grace for me, grace for her, grace from above. How many moments of precious grace do we miss because we don’t take the time to look past ourselves, our own internal struggles, thoughts and fears? Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our fears.

A hurt and dying world

My heart is heavy for a friend. Her beautiful, four-month-old daughter died unexpectedly in her sleep. I grieve for her. I pray for her. I know the journey ahead of her will be filled with hard and long, inconceivable days.

As humans, I think most of us in situations such as this find ourselves wanting to give comfort, to show compassion, to reach out however we can, any way that we can. We are hardwired for relationships, and tragedies remind us of our need to connect… that desperate yearning of our souls to cry out together, to not be alone, to know it is possible for others to understand our deepest thoughts in our darkest hours.

We can switch on the news, open the newspaper, walk out our front door and taste, touch, feel, smell and see this is a hurting and dying world. We can banter our politics, our religious beliefs or lack thereof, our philosophies and theologies, but even still under it all, we want to connect. We are riveted to news of when triumph rises over tragedy. The “human interest stories” where rows upon rows of people, like you and me, stand shoulder to shoulder to rally for the cause, the cure. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, famine relief, hostage situations, school shooting deaths, diseases…the list goes on and on, a list that could easily overwhelm and cause us to succumb and retreat into a black hole. But time and time again, we choose to unite.

We want to do something. We want to make a difference, a change. To triumph evil with good. Again, I think we are hardwired for it. We do not want to be alone, or lonely. We crave the camaraderie, the bonding.

Some situations are very lonely even as crowds of people stand around to rally, to cheer, to offer support. Not all circumstances and tragedies require an obvious, visual clean-up that those who want to help can in fact roll up their sleeves and get to work, to be ready with a quick and easy fix.

Sometimes, we simply do not know what to say or do. Sometimes, the struggle, the fight, the tragedy someone is experiencing is so unfathomable, so mind-bending, yet at its core, so relatable, so frightening and so daunting we are paralyzed; we simply do not have the words.

The death of a precious baby. Sometimes, there are just no words, the right words to be uttered. At least not words of platitudes, empty, awkward words that fill up too much space. Sometimes, a simple I am sorry, I love you, you are not forgotten, she will not be forgotten are enough for the moment as the one who is in the true midst of the tragedy grieves.

Not all tragedies are causes that bring out the banners, hammers and megaphones. Some take quiet moments, long, patient moments of waiting and watching and praying and hoping and loving. I hope I remember – that we all remember as we walk in this life -to bring a smile, a word of hope, a hug of comfort, a touch of grace to those we encounter and pass each moment of the day we have been given. Never needing to know the details, sensationalize the news or completely understand the tragedies we all carry within as we live and breathe through this life together.