by Christy Carlyle
Life is filled with the unexpected. Just when we think we've got a rhythm, that we have the ins and outs of our days and weeks and months down pat, something comes along to knock us off balance. I think we all hope we'll deal with such occasions gracefully and learn whatever lesson the universe may be trying to impart. I know in my case, I usually react with too much emotion, a big dose of frustration, and then try to scrape and crawl and stumble my way toward grace.
After a cross country move that involved driving through ten states, my husband and I traded in our old car for a newer model in May. The car was fresh and shiny and we were scrupulous about trying to keep it clean, drive it carefully, avoid dings—all the things you do with a new car. Then a week or so ago, we were sitting at a drive through window waiting for our order when a guy in a truck slammed into the back of us, hitting us hard enough to imprint words from his license plate frame onto our bumper.
He wasn't injured and we weren't injured but I was supremely annoyed with the whole thing. Our car wasn't shiny and new anymore, and I knew dealing with the insurance company and body shop would eat up a good chunk of my time for the coming days. It would cut into my workday. It would consume my already meager writing time. My immediate reactions didn't include any of that grace I so yearn for.
In reality, calling the insurance company and visiting the body shop probably only took less than two hours total. Within a couple of days, we had our car back and it looked just like it had the day we drove it off the dealership. We had a lot to be grateful for. I felt small and petty for being so bent out of shape about a fender bender that hardly bent our car.
So, yes, in a way I am grateful for that fender bender. The attitude of grace that eluded me finally came because our minor accident forced me to lift my head from the daily grind to deal with this little blip on the radar. And when I lifted my head, I realized that folks around me were dealing with problems and challenges and unexpected life events that couldn't be buffed out at the body shop. It was a lesson in gratitude and in humility.
Since the fender bender, I have been focusing on intentional gratitude, reminding myself to lift my head and look around at the needs of others, and realizing that those blips on our radar screens can be a blessing in disguise. Maybe it's okay for an unexpected event to slow us down now and then. Here's hoping next time I respond, from the get go, with a bit more grace. I'm still learning!