Crash! What then?

A few years ago, I was driving home from the hospital. I saw the left turn signal flashing on the car that was ahead of me. I took note that it was stopping, and decided to go around it on the right shoulder of the highway. Then, there was an impact; a loud crashing sound, and I realized I had misjudged the distance and struck the car! I was stunned for a moment, left reeling and wondering- ‘what happened?’ In moments as I assessed the damage, I realized it was my fault! There was no denying that I had allowed my attention to wander and that my car had hit the car that was turning in front of me. Thankfully, no one was injured but the crash cost me (and my insurance company) dearly.

Sometimes human relationships crash, too. It could be that we just don’t pay attention to how we’re living until – CRASH! – we find that ourselves in the middle of a broken mess. I’ve counseled with many spouses who were cruising down life’s highway, only to hear the wreckage of their broken marriage crashing around them. It could be that someone zooms into our life bringing all their pain and dysfunction, colliding head-on with us. Years ago, a man I’ll call Sam came to the church where I was serving as Pastor. He appeared to be a broken man, hurting and wounded, so we opened up our hearts to his family and to him. What a mistake! Sam was a vicious and selfish man who abused others and who despised authority of every kind. (Classically, he had been raised by an rigidly authoritarian father who he hated!) He crashed head-on into me as the Pastor and did his best for several months to destroy that church under the guise of super-spirituality.

What do we do after the crash? That is a question that I’ve asked myself hundreds of times.

Some just ‘walk away.’
When the sound of conflict crashes over them, they run – leaving the scene of the accident. What a tragic response. Our traffic laws make it an offense to drive away from an accident regardless of whether you caused it or not! We are required to stick around for the paperwork! Conflicts and crashes are inevitable as we live. If we are mature, when we find ourselves in a conflict we’ll stick around to help clean up the mess, to work for reconciliation, to try to help those who are hurting. A person who just walks away from a crash in life takes the pain with her. The next time, and there will be a ‘next time’ everytime, there is a crash she will have to deal with pain piled on top of pain.

Some start pointing the finger of blame. “It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything.” Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. Blame really isn’t the issue. Most of the time a failed human relationship results from many factors involving all parties in the crash! Even when we have minimal responsibility for a crash in relationships, Jesus asks us to take on the responsibility for attempts at restoration and reconciliation. That’s tough to do!

Some decide to withdraw from life.
When we’re disappointed and/or injured by a crashing relationship, there is a temptation to say, ‘I’ll never trust someone in that position again.’ When a person is hurt terribly by a divorce, they may determine never to let love in again. When a person goes through a church fight, he may abandon church all together, which is real loss for all concerned. As tempting as it may be to withdraw into the imagined safety of our own little world, we rob ourselves of God’s best when we do. Instead we must secure ourselves in His love, and try again at life and love!

Here’s are words from the Word. Meditate on them today.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” – Matthew 5:9 (You might know it better in these words, “blessed are the peacemakers.”) The Message

“Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.” – Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT

Are you hearing sounds of a crash?

Don’t run, blame, or withdraw! Ask God to help you to stay steady, to help those who are hurt, to become a part of a resolution. It’s hard work, but there are rich rewards – both for you and for others- when you make peace and reconciliation a priority.

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