Have you ever had one of those mornings when everything that could go wrong, went wrong? And no matter how hard you tried to get out the door on time, you just could not make it happen? Then, to make matters worse, you get on the highway and traffic is at a complete stop because of an accident. That is the final straw and you swear—if not aloud, at least to yourself. At that moment, the only thing on your mind is how late you are going to be and how frazzled you feel over your attempts to be on time.
Then, later that day, when you hear about the terrible accident that stopped traffic and find out a young man with young children at home has been tragically killed in that accident, you feel like the worse human in the world.
Last week, I heard some people complaining about being stuck in traffic. As I eavesdropped, I felt myself nodding my head, thinking “I know exactly how that feels.” Then, the next day, my daughter told me about a horrible accident in which a wonderful member of her church [a generous, loving husband and father with two young children at home] had been killed. Having known this man personally, she was stricken with grief.
What a change in perspective I had at that moment. While I had been sympathizing with people who “left in plenty of time to get to their destination only to be inconvenienced by another stupid accident,” I was now privy to the devastation that was a result of that ‘stupid accident.’ It made me feel sick to think of how many times I have been irritated by stopped traffic when I had an important place to be…as if anything in the world is more important than a human life, which is always in jeopardy if there has been an accident.
A couple of days later, my daughter and I were having lunch when she broke down again, telling me of the great kindness of this man who had been taken too soon. It was hard for her to understand why God would take a man like this and allow so many other wicked people to stay. It is the first time I have ever heard my daughter question God. She is devout in her beliefs and serves in her church, sharing her faith with the youths she guides in confirmation.
We cried and talked through this complex question (in the cafe at IKEA—people must have though we were crazy). The only real conclusion we could come to is this: we have no option other than to exercise the faith we profess to have. We can’t ever know why. But perhaps there is also more to ask. Maybe we should wonder why our paths crossed with theirs. Is it just happenstance? Or were we pre-ordained to play a role in the lives of the bereaved family? This question may just come from my natural tendency to search for the good through the bad…but what if? Shouldn’t we at least try?
All of this talk about losing people before their time made me stop and give thanks for the lives of my family. Whereas a week ago I was lamenting our family gift giving tradition, today I am just happy they are all alive and healthy. What a change in perspective.
So, the next time I am stopped in traffic because of an accident, I vow to consider the victims of the accident before my own agenda…and consider myself the lucky one; the one who gets to be alive and sitting in traffic.