We have all heard the old adage: Patience is a Virtue. Why is it a virtue? Do we gain anything by being patient? Or, looking at it another way, can you lose something by being impatient? Yes, you can. I believe that one person’s impatience almost led to another person’s death. My death.
In the state of Oregon, a day trip to the beach in quite common. For most of us city dwellers, an hour and a half trip over winding roads and the cascade mountain pass will bring us to the serene and calming Pacific Ocean. However, the traffic congestion, especially during the summer, is anything but calming. Traffic gets backed up as campers and trailers move slowly along the winding highway. There are a few areas which allow passing, but for most of the trip, a solid-yellow line declares that passing is not only dangerous, but illegal. I have seen people illegally pass a camper by crossing a solid yellow line as their impatience got the best of them. Those crazy daredevils, I would think to myself, and then just brush it off. Two summers ago, however, one of those crazy daredevils almost took my life.
My daughter, Lauren, and I were returning to Portland from a camping trip along the coast. I was winding my way along highway 30, leaving Astoria, when I started to go through the winding mountain pass back toward Portland. I glanced left, at on-coming traffic, and saw a large RV moving slowly up the hill, the long back-up of cars behind it. In an instant I glanced back in front of me, and my heart leapt as I realized that something was wrong. A car was coming toward me in my lane, my lane….in front of me…two young men with panic in their eyes as they realized that their efforts to pass the RV had failed. I lifted my foot off the gas, instinctively, but didn’t swerve right or left. I prayed, “God, please take both of us.” In that moment, when everything seemed to go in slow motion, I didn’t want to survive if my daughter died, and I didn’t want her to live without her mother by her side. That’s all I was thinking….take both of us…
In an instant, the car veered left onto the gravel shoulder and skidded out of view, missing my car by a few inches. The cars continued behind the RV on the left, the daredevils skidded out to my right, and my car went right on through the middle, untouched. I started shaking, felt sick to my stomach, and looked for a way to turn off the road as soon as possible. When I was finally able to pull over, I fell over the steering wheel in prayer, Thank you Lord for saving our lives. I will never forget this. My daughter, meanwhile, kept watching the DVD player with her headphones on, oblivious to our close call. I felt it was best not to tell her, at least for a while.
For the next few weeks I woke up every night with panic attacks, seeing a car in my dreams coming straight at me. The next summer when I drove along that stretch of highway, I looked closely at the road and discovered that the shoulder widened at that exact stretch of road only for about 50 feet, allowing those young men at that exact moment to pull onto the shoulder and avoid hitting me or killing themselves. Lucky? Yes. A coincidence? No. I was meant to survive that close call. God still has plans for my life.
The next time you see a solid-yellow line that means “No Passing,” be patient and know that the law is there to protect you and to protect other drivers. Patience is a virtue. Patience also saves lives.