On December first I was headed to my Alexander lesson. Only a few minutes away from Elizabeth’s house, I stopped at a 4-way stop sign. Before I stopped, someone from my left turned left onto my street. I looked again just before stopping. The person on my left was going left, and went. The person on my right was nowhere near the stop sign. And the person straight ahead was going straight. It was my turn to go, so I went.
And then I heard a crash.
And felt a terrible jolt. I had been hit by the car from my right. An SUV in fact. The passenger window smashed into a zillion pieces, raining on top of me like ice. I was shocked and stunned. I had seen the car, but it didn’t look out of control or even close to the stop sign. Anyway, as soon as the car hit me, the guy looked at me, backed up, and roared away in the direction I had been going. I tried to dial 911, but my phone was as shaken as I was, and wouldn’t work. Fortunately, two guys stopped, dialed 911, and checked to see if I was okay. They also stuck around until the police came to give statements.
The ambulance and paramedics came too. They asked me if I was okay. I had glass all over me, was terribly shaken, and wasn’t sure. I got out of the car and they walked with me. We decided I was okay enough for now, and would get checked out in the morning.
The police took information, and comforted me as best they could. I finally rebooted my phone and called Elizabeth, who came right away. After some time, we limped my crumpled car to a parking lot to await a tow from AAA. The police told me they had found the car – abandoned with significant front end damage. And the license plate was invalid. Stolen. Maybe the car too. Horrible. Unjust. And now my reality.
The good part? Elizabeth just happened to have a spare car that I was able to borrow until I could rent one. She and her husband where there to comfort me through that initial shock. They fed me too. I went home knowing I had been taken care of and blessed by my friends. Even in the midst of the fear and trauma.
The next morning I was hurting. Especially my neck and back. My friend Ruth got me an appointment to be checked out and have physical therapy to try and ease the pain. I focused on what I needed to do – deal with the car and heal from the physical and emotional trauma. I reported the “accident”, got a rental car, went to physical therapy, rested, and prayed.
At first I was angry. And discouraged. Another setback. Another thing I didn’t need. Another reason to dislike December besides my husband’s death anniversary. I tried to get past it and couldn’t at first. I think I needed to feel just how much this had shaken me, both inside and out. I needed to acknowledge the depth of the emotion, and the physical pain. In fact, even as I’m writing this more than a month later, I’m feeling it again.
I knew I needed to forgive this man. Not for him, but for myself. I didn’t really want to, but I knew it was the path to freedom. To forgive as God has forgiven me again and again. Not let him off the hook legally, were he ever to be caught. But release the emotional hold he had on me through my anger.
People kept asking me if the police ever found him. They wanted to see him brought to justice. At that point I didn’t know nor did I really care. I mean in the scheme of life, it wasn’t that bad. A minor neck and back injury with some physical therapy, my car was in the body shop, and I had use of a rental car. So it wasn’t worth the mental or emotional energy to dwell on the other guy.
And then the situation changed.
The body shop pulled apart my car and found a lot more damage.
They totaled the car. Now, instead of a car repair that would only cost my deductible, I was facing a several thousand dollar price tag for a newer used car. The frequent visits to physical therapy really cut into my time. And my neck was still hurting.
And then I got the copy of the police report. They had never found the guy. He had done all this to me and had gotten away with it. And who knows who else he hurt before or since? What string of crimes or offenses he had committed?
Now the anger came back full force. And then I heard a voice in my head ask, “So…are you only willing to forgive when the price is low? Are you not willing to forgive when the price is higher? When it costs you a lot?”
At that moment I was reminded God forgave me when the price was his own son. A cost beyond anything that I might pay for my car and physical therapy. I knew I had to forgive this man again. Even though it was hard. Even though he didn’t deserve it. And even though he wouldn’t ever know.
I had to do it because it was right. I had to do it for myself too. My body was already tight from trying to protect myself from further trauma (a little too late, but that’s how our bodies work, isn’t it?). I didn’t need to add resentment to the mix. I needed to release that emotion, the grip this situation had on me. Even when the cost was high. Because the cost to hold on to anger was higher than whatever I’d pay for a car or lost time. Though the price of forgiveness is high, the price of unforgiveness is higher.
So I did forgive him. Once wasn’t enough. I had to do it again and again. When I saw my bank balance go down. When I couldn’t participate in some favorite Christmas activities because I was hurting…or having physical therapy. When I thought about this guy hurting someone else. I had to let it go. Release the negative energy that was slowing my healing. Focus on what I could control, rather than what I couldn’t.
I bought a newer car. The physical therapy is helping. Life will eventually get back to normal. Maybe I’ll be able to replace the money I spent on the car. If not, I trust I’ll be okay. And I walk around a bit lighter because I have forgiven the unknown man at the Pleasant Street intersection.
Is there someone you need to forgive today? At the start of this new year, set yourself free by offering forgiveness. Even if the cost is high. You may or may not let them know you did it. It’s up to you. If you’ve done this, let us know in the comments. You don’t have to provide details. And share this post with a friend.