This morning, as I was talking to my friend David on the phone, I stared out the window mindlessly at the cars passing by on the road in front of my apartment. And I watched an accident happen. A grey SUV pulled into the middle of the street, and a red pick-up truck with a lawnmower on the back crashed right into its side. My mouth opened as I watched, as David kept talking. And I wondered what was going to happen next.
The grey SUV was in the middle of the road, so the driver slowly pulled across and off to the side, to the curb. And I wondered what the red pick-up truck was going to do. I had a sense about him. He was waffling, unsure, I could tell. He started to move forward, seeming like he was trying to figure it out. And then he just kept going. He didn’t stop. And he was gone.
The woman in the grey SUV saw this at the same time I did, and she got out and ran to the street and put her hands to her head. This man did something wrong, he caused damage, and then he just took off, seeming not to care who he hurt, or what was left in the wake of his actions.
Then it was my turn. I had to figure out what, if anything, I was going to do.
I got off the phone with David and decided to walk out there. I grabbed my keys and my phone in case the people in the car didn’t have one. And I saw a woman walking across the grass to the SUV just as I was on my way. That heartened me. See? I thought. People care.
When I got to the SUV, I asked the two women if they were okay. Luckily, despite the damage to the car, no one was hurt. Two men working on a house across the street made their way over to see if all was well. And I did the only thing I could do—I asked the woman in the car if I could hug her.
She was clearly distraught, but she accepted my hug. I put my hand on her arm and told her, “I know what that man did was mean and wrong, but that was one man, and there are four people who came here to see if you’re okay. Remember that.”
She nodded and thanked me. As I stood there with the women, I realized this was a lot like the presence of God.
People do bad things. They always do. We all have choices to make, and sometimes people choose wrong. Sometimes people choose from a place of darkness instead of a place of light. People, every day, make choices based in fear.
But there are others who reach out, who help, who care.
We have to decide what we’re going to focus on, what’s going to get our attention. The poor actions of other people, or the ones who come to us with open arms, ready to help.
The helpers, in my opinion, can make you believe in God.
If you’re sensitive like me, the wrong things people do really hurt. They hurt for a long time, and we may worry we’re never going to heal. We might shut people out and burrow down to protect ourselves. And that makes sense.
But then there are the helpers.
One bad driver. Four people who came over to help. The good outweighs the other.
Nearly two years ago, I ended up in the hospital unexpectedly. I stayed there for a week, unable to take care of myself. It would have been easy to burrow down in loneliness and fear. Instead, I was fortunate enough to be in a state where my heart was cracked wide open, and all the love of the people around me poured in. Friends visited every day. At home, my aunts went food-shopping for me and ironed my clothes. My grandmother (I think?) ran the vacuum. My mother got in touch with my employer and arranged for me to be on leave. When I got home, I got cards and food from friends, all who wanted to take care of me, all who loved me. And I let that love in. I had never known people felt that way about me, especially through all my hardships and pain. But then I knew that it was only in my darkness and brokenness that I could see Light, and there was just so much of it. Pure abundance. Everywhere.
I think about that hospital stay every day of my life, remembering what I saw and felt and what people did for me. I know there are plenty of people out there who do bad things. People hurt other people. I don’t know why they do it, and it’s not up to me to know. But there are so many more who offer help, who offer love. And I am learning to receive that love, graciously. I do not wish to take, and I do not wish to steal. I only want to accept what’s offered with grace.
Once I started to see all this more clearly, everything in my life changed.