After taking a brief look at the boys, I popped out of the car, and so did the attractive, middle-aged Asian woman who bashed us.
"Oh my gosh," she said, arms flailing. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Sun so bright. I'm so sorry."
The sun excuse was just plain silly, but we were unharmed and the spectacular J-Team van also looked perfect. Well, "perfect" is a bit of a stretch with 108K miles and nearly seven years of boys, but it definitely didn't look any different than it had five minutes before.
"It's okay," I said. "Please do not worry about it."
But then she saw the boys in the van, and went from upset to nearly hysterical.
"Oh and you have children, I am so sorry. So so sorry."
At this point I didn't know what to do so I hugged her. "Please do not worry," I said, patting her back. "They are fine. Really."
Finally, she got back in her spiffy car, and I climbed back into the van and was greeted with bewilderment from Nate. "Mom, why did you hug her?" The hugging did not compute in his supremely logical little mind. What ensued was a very sweet conversation about grace and mercy.
But it made me think about another fender bender from years ago. I think I was seventeen, but I may have been sixteen. I was driving a cute little Mazda RX7, which I have no idea how I scored. My brother, Craig, was the advocate in me getting it. But it was in my possession for only a few hours before some lady took a left turn way too tight and smashed me while I was literally stopped at a light. And although many of the details are blurry after all these years, I think this woman probably apologized too. I do remember that she wet herself over the accident. Yes, that pitiful detail is still vivid. I am ashamed, horribly ashamed, that I didn't feel one bit sorry for her. I was furious that my cute little car was smashed up, aghast that someone could be that careless, and ticked that I was being terribly inconvenienced. Whatever an anti-hug looks like, that's what I gave her.
Yes, I was a mere child, and yes, there was actual damage, but maturity and severity have little to do with the difference in my reaction. You see I am a completely different person now, and I have a completely different heart. I may have claimed Jesus as my Savior as a little girl, but I did almost nothing to pursue him as my Lord. And my heart of stone wasn't softened by a mere confession of faith. It remained cold and hard until the Holy Spirit, through the relationship of knowing Him and loving Him, started to melt my pride and purify my emotions. Of course, I am only a work in progress, clinging with white knuckles to the promise that He who began a good work will carry it on to completion. (Philippians 1:6). But I am encouraged that I do see some progress, at least in the realm of minor traffic accidents. And shouldn't we all see progress in many areas of our lives? This week may we ask ourselves this most important question: In what ways, in what areas, am I becoming more and more like my Savior?