Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grace on a Thursday: The Fender-Bender

Last weekend, on the way to a birthday party, someone slammed into the back of our car on the freeway.

My husband was driving, and our car had been completely stopped in traffic when we were solidly hit by the guy behind us. Then another car hit him. The very loud double crash was quickly followed by the interrogation from the kids in the backseat, "WHAT was THAT!?"

"Well, guys, another car just crashed into us."

"What do we do now?" and "What's going to happen?" and "Can we get out and look?"

"NO you cannot get out and look!"

We crept through the rows of traffic and pulled off the freeway at the next exit, the oldish Honda following behind. I got a glimpse of the driver in the mirror. He was a young man. I wondered how my husband and he would interact.

We found a shady corner of a gas station parking lot where the business end of things would be addressed. After my husband got out, I twisted around in my seat and tried to spy the driver of the Honda. I couldn't quite make sense of what was happening though. He opened his door, but the man stayed seated in the car and I saw his hands flailing wildly near his own face. Was he upset? He didn't look angry. I squinted through the glare on the windows. In fact, his expression looked intensely grieved. And then I understood. The young man was severely handicapped with something that resembled cerebral palsy. The uncoordinated movement of his hands and arms astonished me, not because I hadn't seen someone like that before, but because he was alone in the driver's seat of a car. Not to mention the fact that he'd been driving on the freeway, in the fast lane.  

As my husband stood near the open door of the Honda, I knew his heart would go out to him, and I knew, no matter how he felt about the dents on our bumper, he would treat this man with grace. They exchanged insurance information, as the backside of my Volvo now has a perfect imprint of the man's front license plate in it. But I'm sure you can guess that I didn't care much about the dent.

I was most thankful that, firstly, everyone was unharmed. My daughter said, "We can be thankful that wasn't a lot worse." Yes indeed, my little Pollyanna. And secondly, that it was a great opportunity for a teachable moment. My husband displayed a soft heart in a potentially tense situation. He offered unmerited favor to the handicapped man who was so pleadingly apologetic. That, in fact, was why his face looked so grieved, I learned later. He just kept saying how sorry he was. He probably expected anger and condemnation. But that was not what he got, and praise God my kids had front row seats to that show.

Incidentally, the car that hit the Honda did not pull over. He dented the Honda just as badly as he dented us, but the white truck sped off without concern. That was lesson number two for my kids. Some people make bad choices and think only of themselves. Some people are too afraid to do what is right.

Maybe one day, when one of my children is wronged by someone else, they will duplicate my husband's demeanor. They will calmly asses the damage, and offer grace to the offender. Maybe they'll recall what it looks like to use self-control and treat a stranger with respect.

Maybe that "maybe" makes our little accident totally worth it.



  1. Wow, what a post this is...I've totally got goosebumps right now! Thank God you are all safe...and that your husband acted with such grace and forgiveness. If only we could all be a little more kind each day, the world would be a much brighter place.
    - April W

  2. Aw that poor man. :( When my car was hit back in May, my heart went out to the guy who hit me, too. He was 82 and was coming home from getting cancer removed from his forehead. He was incredibly nice, and when my husband showed up 15 minutes later he introduced himself as "the bad guy". It broke my heart. So glad your husband could extend grace and be such a great role model for the kids.

  3. What a great moment to extend grace and humility. I'm glad your kids were there to witness it!

  4. Glad you're all safe! The guy who took off is not smart - the Honda guy's insurance would have fixed his car because he was the first one to hit.

  5. great lesson indeed and i'm glad no one was hurt!

  6. AMEN!

    half way through reading this i was thinking thank you God for demonstrating/teaching grace. it's never about the "what" happens it's about the Who, and how He can be glorified.

    may God continue to be glorified through this.

    btw- how are you all feeling a week later? any whip-lash? i've been in one of those multiple rear endings and a week later my back hurt. hopefully that will not be the case for you, but if so i pray that God goes ahead of you ALL and provides all your needs.

  7. God uses all things, even accidents. I think our kids really remember how we react in those kinds of situations.

    I agree with Denise, hopefully none of you are experience any effects from being rammed.

  8. LOVE this story. perfect, Christ-honoring behavior and perspective after the fact. can wait to meet you @ blog sugar, too!! :)

  9. how lovely the kids got to see your husband extend grace. They are always watching and this was a great lesson!