Now that I’m sharing driving time with a new driver in our family I’m a bit more aware of my own driving style. Some of it is because there’s a voice from the passenger side that says things like, “Do you know the speed limit is only 30 here?,” and “You really shouldn’t be fiddling with that CD case while you’re driving.” I’m also at a heightened level of alert knowing our new driver is noticing everything I’m doing. Did I mention EVERYTHING? So, now I’m checking my hands at 10 and 2, making sure my mirrors are adjusted before putting the car in gear, and selecting my listening CD while still in the parking spot.
In reality, I hope I’ve been modeling good driving for the past decade. Our new driver has been riding with me more than 15 years at this point. Though she’s picking up some specifics to compare to what she’s been learning from instructors, her analysis of my driving isn’t likely to be persuaded by 11th hour changes. A sudden adjustment of my actions probably won’t influence her thought on the kind of driver her dad is. Her opinion was largely formed the day we sat at a stop sign on an icy road on the way to Awana. In the rearview mirror I saw a car sliding toward us. I knew it wasn’t going to stop in time. I knew if we got hit hard enough we’d get pushed into the fast-moving traffic of the icy road in front of us. In the slow motion of that sliding car the only thing I could do was reach my arm across my daughter to act as a back up to her seatbelt and quickly pray aloud, “Lord, protect us right now.” We weren’t hit too hard and only slid to the edge of the road, not into the passing cars. The horrified lady in the car behind us was in tears as I explained it was no big deal. We were unharmed and there was barely a scratch on my trusty Ford Escort Wagon. We exchanged information, but I explained I’d have it looked at the next day but didn’t see any reason to report it since I didn’t see any damage. When I got back in the car, my daughter noted, “Daddy, you were really nice to the lady who hit us.” I hope it’s a lesson that sticks in the mind of a new driver. I hope she can see beyond the laws and rules to see there are people both driving and as passengers in those vehicles around her.
There are people who will need compassion. People who need to be avoided. Motorcyclists to watch for. Babies in the back seat of minivans. Your own passengers who are a valuable cargo. In essence, our faith should be lived out not only in church pews, but also behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Our walk with Christ has impact on every part of our lives, even the part (especially) we spend traveling at high speeds just inches from other people traveling high rates of speed. I haven’t shared a blessing with everyone who’s ever cut me off, but I do recognize my witness in those moments is what influences my daughter as a driver…and as a follower of Christ.
Who’s watching you? Who are you influencing today?
I really did try and be over-the-top with compassion with the driver who hit me on that icy road. However, I watched her closely as she pulled out behind us as we went toward church for Awana that evening. She stayed behind me to the next intersection and even turned to follow me onto Bowes Road. She stuck with me all the way into the church parking lot. She took a spot a couple down from me (thankfully). I was a little nervous when she started to get out of her car. She proceeded to get a child out of the back seat. I sent my daughter inside with someone else in the parking lot and waited for the lady who was approaching me. She stopped in front of me and said, “I thought I recognized you. You’re one of the pastors here, right? I probably picked the worst winter night of the year to bring my son to Awana for the first time. Thanks again for being so kind about the accident.”
It wasn’t only my daughter who got a lesson on the value of a driver with good behavior that evening. So did her father.
The Unexamined Life and All
Posted: March 3, 2012
Filed under: Amelia, Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Elgin IL, Grace Evangelical Church, Jeff, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual
Tagged: accident, new driver, Pastor Jeff Denton, student driver, teenager
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