"Don't be yourself ~ be someone a little nicer." ~ Mignon McLaughlin
I was running to the market to pick up some soup for my daughter who was sick. I pulled into the store's parking lot, eager to make the purchase and get back home. Before I had a chance to claim a parking space, I felt the impact and heard the crunch of metal. I looked to my left and saw the car that had hit me. I took a deep breath and pulled into a parking spot.
Getting out to assess the damage, I was met with the older woman who had hit me. "I am so sorry! I guess I didn't look carefully enough." She was visibly shaken. She immediately took complete responsibility, apologizing profusely.
"It's okay. Accidents happen. Neither of us was hurt. It's just a car." I tried my best to reassure her.
We did the responsible thing and exchanged our information. She pulled a camera out of her glove compartment and told me she didn't know how to use it. She said that her husband had told her to take photos if she ever got into an accident. I offered to help, and took several pictures of both of our cars for her to take home to her husband.
In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about my daughter at home, feeling poorly and waiting for her soup. As much as I wanted to get done with the inconvenience of our little accident, I also felt compelled to spend some time with this woman and help calm her down. I knew what she was experiencing, as I'd been there before. I know that overwhelming feeling of regret, guilt, and self-abuse. She kept chiding herself, then asking me how I could be so nice to her after she'd hit my car.
I drove away from that meeting with regrets of my own. I should have told her that it wasn't in my nature to respond kindly, especially when I am in a hurry. I should have shared with her that it was God speaking through me, and softening my heart towards her. To be honest, this was my only explanation for why I reacted the way I did.
I called her house shortly after I got home to make sure she'd arrived safely. After seeing how upset she was, I had offered to follow her home, but she'd refused. We talked briefly and set up a time to meet so her husband could assess the damage to my car. Two days later, she and her husband came to our house and met with my husband and me. After a brief discussion about the car, we began to chat, like old friends who hadn't seen each other in years. This time, when my reaction to the accident came up in the conversation, I had the presence of mind to share about my faith in God.
My Explorer has a little more imperfection than it had before we met in the parking lot that day. That's okay. The new dent reminds me that it brought me a gift ~ a new friend.
"If we should deal out justice only, in this world, who would escape? No, it is better to be generous, and in the end more profitable, for it gains gratitude for us, and love."
"To err on the side of kindness is seldom an error." ~ Liz Armbruster
"Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns." ~ Author Unknown