*Note: This photo was taken after my car had been carefully pushed up off the green as the tow truck was prohibited from going onto the turf.
I admit it. I was not paying attention to what I should have been. Busy with my thoughts, I missed a changing light, entered an intersection and was struck by an oncoming car that had the right of way. It was my fault.
I certainly had not meant to do it but that is beside the point. I did it and as a result of my action, there were consequences. My car was hit, damage was done not only to my own vehicle but the other driver's as well. Even though the airbags in both vehicles were deployed, someone could have been hurt or even killed. Fortunately that did not happen. Both myself and the driver sustained no injuries though we were initially very concerned for one another. The first words out of our mouths weren't accusations or apologies. They were, "Are you okay and thank God you are!
As bad as it was, things could have been worse. You see, there could have been two more accidents that day but there weren't.
In the statement to the police, the other driver and a witness said after my car was struck, my car veered to the right (NW). My account different. I was certain that it veered to the left (SW) first before spinning around and heading northwest onto the unfenced golf course. Since it was two against one, I figured, like everyone else, that I had been disoriented and was mistaken. That is what I believed until the other day when my husband wanted me to take him to the accident site.
He had been there previously when he picked Thursday afternoon but he hadn't had a chance to really take a look at things as my car was about to be hauled away by the time he got there. He wanted to revisit it and piece together for himself what happened because there were a couple of things about the report that did not make sense.
The first thing he noticed as we drove along the route I had taken was that as you approached this light you rounded a curve which obscured the traffic light from view. Aware of this problem, the City had thoughtfully placed a sign warning you about the traffic light as you exited the curve. Since the light had just changed prior to my entering the intersection, the light had been green before it was obscured from my view by the curve and by the trees. If I did see it before rounding the curve, and I don't know as I did, it would have been green. I did however miss the warning sign and if I had been paying attention, I had plenty of time to slow down and stop. I simply was not paying attention.
As I pointed out where my car and the other car had collided, he was quiet before speaking once again.
"I saw where both cars were damaged. She hit you on the rear panel of the driver's side and so you wouldn't have been knocked to the right, it would have spun you to the left and into the lane of oncoming traffic."
"Well, that's what I thought happened. I thought I was headed toward a car stopped at the light. I thought I was going to hit it so I tried to bring the car around in order to avoid another collision. The other two witnesses said I spun to the right though, not the left so I must have been wrong."
My husband shook his head. "No, you weren't wrong. That's exactly what you did based on the evidence. It's just that it happened so quickly that they missed it and automatically assumed you had always been heading northwest when in fact you weren't. You managed to avoid causing a second accident."
I sat stunned for a moment before I began to shake and cry. I felt so bad about the accident and had been beating myself up over it. The revelation that I had in fact in a split second realized I was about to cause a second accident and did exactly what I needed to do to avoid it, completely overwhelmed me. I was a competent driver. I had just allowed myself to be distracted and as a result had suffered from the consequences.
Two people were neither hurt nor killed as a result of my actions. That is mercy. However, two cars were totalled that day. Two people needed to make phone calls, answer questions, get rides to where they needed to go, pick up rental cars, file claims, go shopping for replacement vehicles and hope and pray the settlement amount would be sufficient to pay the lienholder if their vehicle wasn't fully paid for. Mine wasn't.
Mercy may be given but often there are consequences that follow.
My husband now wanted to know where my car had gone. By the time he got there that day, my car had already been loaded onto the tow truck and there had been no time to ask questions. We turned to look at the golf course. I pointed to a spot halfway down a slope. "That's where I ended up."
He studied it for a moment and then said, "How did you get down there?"
"I drove down there."
"I mean what route did you take. There is a traffic light, large sign and a bunch of trees in the way."
I shrugged. "I don't know. I just know I ended up there."
He studied things again. Finally he said you must have driven around those trees down there and come up the hill."
I shook my head. No, I distinctly remembered going down the slope before finally having enough wits about me to hit the brakes.
My husband is a patient man. "Look, there is a light and a big sign on the right and next to them there are a bunch of trees. You couldn't have gone down the slope there. You would have hit them."
I studied the terrain once again. "There's a grassy spot between them." I finally said.
He shook his head. "That path is too narrow. You couldn't have driven through there."
I stepped forward to take a closer look and then gave a triumphant yell. "Look!"
There, clearly marked in the grass was the evidence of tire tracks which led between the obstacles and down the slope, coming to a stop right where I said I had been.
My husband shook his head. "I wouldn't have believed it possible but there it is. The evidence proves it. You landed right on the only path you could have taken and if you would have veered just a little bit to the left or two the right there would have been a third accident.
There was more good news in this story. Apparently there were, amongst other things, some very valuable options on my car which meant the payout is going to be higher than what is normally paid for a car of its age and model. After the deductible is, well deducted, enough will be left over to pay off my loan and even put money down on my new car which at the moment is on hold at the dealership until the payoff comes through.
This is grace.
Remember that though there may be mercy, often there are consequences and that's where grace comes in. Grace is more than the consequences.