Today I got into a fender bender. It was raining and my 2.5yr old son was with me in the truck and having a blast with daddy. Coming up to a light I hit the brakes and started to hydroplane. I spun the wheel, but by then all four tires were gliding along on a thin layer of puddled water on the road. There was plenty of time to know that I wasn’t going to stop. White knuckled, I swore loudly as I tried spinning the wheel to no effect. It was a relatively gentle collision, but enough to split and scratch the car’s bumper in front of me.
It took me a good minute or two to slow down my breathing and get control of my temper. I was so frustrated that I hadn’t pumped the brakes, started braking earlier, or paid more attention… anything but hit the car in front of me. By then, the person in front of me had parked and I calmed down and started through my mental list of what to do – do the right thing. Make sure nobody is hurt, exchange info, take pictures, call the insurance agent.
My 2.5yr old son was watching it all.
About five minutes after we had pulled over, I was starting to come back to reality instead of just doing the checklist. The guy who was driving the other car actually was the one to check on how my son was doing. He asked my son if he was scared. Isaiah wasn’t scared, but he was taking it all in since he could look right out the open side-door at us.
After we had everything checked off the list, I hopped in the car and took a few deep breaths and looked over. Quickly, it all ran through my head of what just happened over the last 20 minutes and how I reacted.
I made a quick decision. I turned to my son and said, “was that scary?” He said “no,” but he was wide eyed and quiet. I said “Isn’t it great that God loves us so much and takes care of us? Nobody was hurt – we’re all safe! Lets tell God how thankful we are and rejoice! He loves us and takes care of us!” We got to sing a bunch of songs together about joy, love, peace and grace.
I was glad my son was with me because I would have probably just done the check-list and stayed in my lousy space, but I was sad my son was with me because I lost my temper. If I lose my temper over something like a fender-bender, what does that say about the condition of my heart?
But maybe, if someday I press the brakes and the car doesn’t stop, or something bad happens, I won’t drop into the dumps, but instead my mind and heart will be filled with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness that belong there ALL the time. And maybe, if someday something hard happens to my son, he will remember the good stuff that we learned together so he doesn’t need 2 minutes + 5 minutes + 15 minutes to get back into the mental, emotional and spiritual splace that God wants us to live in ALL the time.