Tires squealed as we narrowly missed hitting the small white sedan in front of us. It was Monday morning and we were driving toward the on-ramp of the highway, headed to a community health center south of Boston. We looked at each other, relief on our faces when suddenly my friend looked in the mirror and shouted “Oh no!” Out of nowhere barreled a massive, grey, steel vehicle.
Metal on metal.
Heads jerking back.
Voices raised in panic.
The SUV hit us in the rear of the car and then sideswiped the passenger side of the vehicle. It was over in seconds and we sat in the car, seat belts tight, breathing prayers and hard sighs of gratitude that no one was hurt.
Police came. Information was exchanged. Tears fell. Reports were filed. And by the time we got to our meeting we were exhausted. It had been a Monday morning collision.
The thing about car accidents is the ripple effect they have. It’s not just the collision. It’s the aftermath; the insurance hassle, the body shop, the quote from insurance, the arguing with bureaucrats for fair payment, not least the replay in our minds of steel on steel colliding. The “if only’s” that abound.
Sometimes conflicts are like serious collisions. Glass breaks, tires squeal, air bags pop out breaking teeth and bruising faces, injury is obvious. Other times conflict acts more like a fender bender, where there is seemingly minimal damage but as you leave you feel angry. The crash has made you late to work, you have to get an insurance estimate, your week has suddenly taken on urgent tasks. Furthermore, the person who hit you didn’t seem sorry.
In serious collisions we wear the damage on our bodies, emotions are raw and strong, people are in shock, emergency care is needed and the car is totaled. Serious conflicts are the same — things can never go back to where they were. The relationship, like the car, seems like a total loss. And totaled cars are discarded; sold to the highest bidder for parts.
It’s what seems to happen with some relationships. They feel discarded, useful only as parts sold to the highest bidder.
Occasionally there is someone who goes to the auction and sees the car, but instead of seeing the dented metal and smashed glass, they see the possibilities. They understand that the car can be bought and re-built.
It will never be like it was, but it’s still functional, still useful, still able to be driven.
It’s this picture I prefer when I think about relationships. Can I be the person that, instead of seeing total ruin, sees hard work and potential? Sees within all the brokenness, possibilities born from smashed hearts and dented feelings? It will never be the same; it can never be the same — but can something of value and use emerge from those hurt parts?
The Monday morning collision was hard, and I’m still a little shaken. But it’s given me a chance to think about these other, far more difficult collisions – the collisions that call for me to make a choice; discard as total loss or get back with potential to rebuild.
How about you? Have you been in a car collision recently? How about a people collision? If so what was the aftermath and how are you picking up the broken glass?
*Important note! The picture above is NOT a picture of my accident! Mine was not so serious!