This I Believe

Larry - Maidens, Virginia
Entered on December 13, 2007

I saw God today, and we got into it pretty good. It’s probably about time. He was driving a white Sentra and He pulled out into the thick Arizona heat right in front of me and quickly slowed to make a left turn.

As He took His turn I yelled out the window and when I looked back, sure enough, I saw that Sentra run backwards, whip around and start coming my way. I downshifted and got ready for a fight as He headed my way.

Then something happened. I got scared. I’ve been scared before but this time it was different. It made me alter my behavior. I have always believed that it’s important to acknowledge fear but not let it affect my actions, but somehow this was different.

I headed for the Sheriff’s station. I knew I was capitulating; I just did it. We were a ways away and I had to work to avoid an opportunity for Him to push me off the road or get a good shot off. I couldn’t make it stick, though, and soon we came to a four way intersection with cars waiting to go through. I was stuck.

He pulled up on my right and rolled down His window. I rolled down my window and we began. He yelled at me pretty good. I yelled right back and a little more. We went back and forth for a while and then He startled me.

We were definitely still fighting, in fact the next step was to get out of the truck, and He looked up at me and yelled, “You need to Calm Down!!!” That’s not the sort of thing you yell at a guy you’re fighting with. But something made me listen. I thought for a second, and I said forcefully, “How about we both Calm Down!” He said okay, and after a little pause we both pulled away.

That night I saw Him again. I started to think more about the incident itself. He was wrong to pull in front of me and basically come to a stop, and I was wrong to yell at Him. I began to extend what had happened – to imagine what easily might have come. I saw that Sentra go, but this time there was other traffic coming around the curve as it ran backwards – at high speed into an oncoming car. There was a collision, and someone died. A girl, a teenaged girl. Like my sixteen year old girl. Or the sixteen year old girl who was killed for real in our small town late last year.

I couldn’t get past that. It made me see that I’ve been pretty lucky so far, that the obstinate, ready-to-go attitude I had always thought of as an asset was really not The Way. I have always worked hard, gotten things done. But I have also been intolerant, impatient and mostly uncaring of others outside of my family and friends. I had thought this was a Good Thing.

It’s not. I do have to Calm Down. Being tolerant is important in itself. Being patient is an end all by itself. Caring for those I don’t know is what’s right.

That’s what He was saying. Sometimes when someone does something I don’t like it’s not wrong, it’s just different or it’s not important. I may not like it and I might even think that it’s wrong, but what He was telling me was that it’s mostly just different.

He was telling me that I should be tolerant of those differences and that not being tolerant is wrong. And that the next time I’m intolerant, there might be consequences I cannot take. I like tough stuff. I like blood and dents and fighting. But I don’t like pain in the lives of people I care about, I don’t like real damage and I don’t really want true harm to come to anyone.

I should understand that and I should change the way I behave. I have to see that things are not always simple. I have to become a patient person.

The people around me must know these things; they’ve just been afraid to tell me because of the way I am. But the Guy in the Sentra wasn’t afraid. He was telling me what the people around me haven’t been able to because of the way I’ve been living my life.

And I want it. I never would have understood this on my own, but I understand now. I want there to be something, or someone, that can help me. Someone who can help me get the things in my life and for my family that I cannot get on my own. I want there to be someone in my life who is bigger than I am.

I believe in God alright. I just didn’t know He drove a Sentra.