Last Wednesday, on my way home from work, I had a collision with another car in the middle of an intersection. I was in such shock that I didn't even realize the damage that had been done to the car. After I stopped shaking so much, I tried to open the door and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't open. So I resolved to crawl out my passenger side, which was very surreal for me, like I was living in a movie or something. When I finally got out and looked at the car, I realized why I couldn't open the door; the driver side of my car was completely smashed up! Later I saw that it was quite noticeable from the inside, too, so I don't know how I didn't see that before. The woman in the other car was so nice to me, and she didn't want the cop to give me a ticket, which was such a great blessing for me.
So I watched the annoyingly cheerful man from AAA tow my car away and went home. I got to my doorstep and couldn't find my house key amidst all the crap from my car that I had stuffed into my purse. I started throwing things on the porch and then finally decided to just ring the doorbell. Mary and Amber were met with my uncontrollable sobs, and when I told them the story, they tried to comfort me with some variations of "at least you are okay" and "at least you didn't get a ticket." But after three car accidents, these types of responses just don't satisfy anymore.
It makes me wonder how God would want us to react in such circumstances. Is it acceptable for me to sob uncontrollably, throw things on the porch, and say that things aren't okay? Would God want me to play the "at least" game and recount all the things that could have happened that didn't? Is THAT what should give me consolation? The way I see it, we could play the at least game forever. "Oh, you've been making out with random guys? Well, at least you're not doing drugs." "At least it wasn't worse." etc etc. And I'm all for keeping perspective about a situation and counting your blessings, but I think playing the at least game is dangerous. And it just doesn't work for me.
That's why I think the only safe response to my circumstances is to lean on grace. The fact is, I messed up. Maybe I'm a terrible driver. Maybe I'm a stupid, flaky girl with a crappy attention span. Maybe I just have really bad luck with driving. If any or all of those things are true, I will definitely not get any consolation from knowing that at least I didn't get a ticket. It might be that any or all of those things are true, but because of God's grace, it's okay. Because of God's grace, I didn't get a ticket. And I think if I play the at least game, I'm not going to see it that way. If I play the at least game, I'll just be comparing circumstances--Mine with another person's, or mine with "what could have been." And it might sometimes help to make me feel better as a quick fix, but the only real thing that will satisfy me is clinging to God's unending grace.
Looking back, I can feel God's love covering me, as I remember my mom running to me and then calling AAA to take care of the car. I can see God's grace offering me a hand so I can stand back up as He brings a compassionate woman and a lenient police officer so that I don't have to feel so ashamed and so I don't have to get another ticket. Because I'm a screw up, crappy things like car accidents are going to happen. But God always finds a way to remind me that He's taking care of me in the midst of the situation I find myself in. And that's the only thing that is going to comfort me after a car accident.
It sucks not to have a car, but what would suck even more is to miss seeing the ways God takes care of me by reducing His acts of love to mere statements of "at least it's not as bad as what could have happened." I crashed my car, but then, I got to see God's love made complete in the kindness of strangers, the grace of my mom, and the support from my friends. So yeah, at least I had that.
If there’s an upside to free falling, it’s the chance you give your friends to catch you. –Grey’s Anatomy