One sunny October Sunday afternoon, my family was travelling onto campus with me at the wheel.
Out of nowhere, a small silver honda pulled out of an apartment complex parking lot. I didn't have time to stop, so I slammed on the brakes and closed my eyes.
No airbags deployed, so that meant we'd made impact at a speed lower than 15 MPH. This to say it was a minor collision, and all people involved (including my three kiddos) were perfectly fine.
The two silver vehicles weren't quite as lucky. But there was a blessing in our bungled bumper.
The young man who we ran into is named Cody. Cody has made a lasting impression on our family... and not in a twisted or bent metal kind of way.
This 20ish year old young man made a consious choice to accept responsibility for his actions. So many "kids" his age are assumed to be irresponsible. Cody proved to us that society's assumptions cannot include all young people.
We heard him say "I'm so sorry, this was completly my fault" multiple times. Immediately to us, again when his roomate came out to check on him, another time when friends walking by noticed the chaos... and yet one more time when the police officer was issuing him a ticket.
What happened to the excuses? The denial? The cranky attitude? We saw none of it. Respect, humility and responsibility were all we saw throughout the 30 minute ordeal.
Conversations over the incident came up at dinner with our kids (what an example of how to respond to a crummy situation!), and many times over with my friends and family. I even sent cards of appreciation to his parents and to Cody himself.
It seemed that some people who heard the story found it odd that I was so impressed with the guy... wouldn't everyone respond like Cody in this situation? It made me wonder why it impacted me so strongly.
It made me think.
It reminded me of a "Peanuts" cartoon that demonstrated how people don't like to take responsibility. It showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck."
He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?"
She said, "You're my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."
Somehow, we think that someone else is responsible.
It made me think about a time when I slipped into this bad attitude a couple of weeks prior to our bumper incident. I was pulled over by an officer for speeding, but was not issued a ticket. Now I can tell you that I deserved a ticket, but at the moment, I was giving myself (not the officer) a dozen excuses of why I should have been left alone to cruise at 32 mph in that 25 mph zone.
When I looked back on that crappy mental attitude, I realized how incredibly different I had responded than the way the wise young man Cody had chosen to respond.
So it has kept me thinking. And working on my responses to my actions. I'm realizing some of those responses are rooted in many years of denial and blame. It's tough to change, but good for me to try.
And so I'm thankful to Cody and our bungled bumper for the baby steps forward that I'm trying to make. What a blessing, eh?
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." --1 John 1:9
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