I was once in an accident that blindsided me. It happened in a startling flash! And though nearly four decades have passed, I haven’t forgotten sitting there in the car, shocked that while making a left turn in a blind hilltop intersection, I’d just been spun around and was facing an entirely different direction on the hill I’d intended to drive down to go home. Soon I would talk with an officer and would receive a citation and have to go to traffic court. It was a mercy that a very lenient judge determined that though the accident was my fault for failing to yield right of way, were I to successfully attend and pass the traffic school course, I could, once again, have a “clean” driving record. Completing the course may have changed the record, but I knew differently. Even though I now had no blot on my record (and no one was injured), I still knew the accident was my fault. I didn’t drive again for a long time.
Incidentally, where we lived in Seattle, I didn’t really need to drive anywhere. Even still, it wasn’t that I couldn’t drive anywhere but that I wouldn’t drive anywhere. That accident blindsided me and caused me to believe I ought never drive again. Fear. It caused me to believe I was a terrible driver. It caused me to question if I ever was a good driver. It caused me to think that were I to ever drive again I’d probably get in another accident, wreck the car, permanently mar my driving record, or worse, hurt someone. Everyone would know–they’d know I was a failure and that I should never have been driving again. Shame. It was disproportionate fear and shame.
Fear and shame are powerful things — they can paralyze us, cause us to do or not do things, and can cause us to doubt ourselves, or other people or things. Guilt only adds to the paralyzing results of blindsiding event. Disappointment is another angle that comes to light, and, incidentally, pride does this, too. Sometimes.
Things that’ve blindsided me in life have revealed one or any number of these things and I’m pretty sure these are what have caused me to seek God’s purposes for them– and much more so with each passing year. I’ve determined to ask, why is this thing making me ashamed or afraid, or is this thing hurting (thus revealing) my pride, or why did this thing bring such instant and great disappointment, or why do I feel so guilty or responsible for this problem, or was thing to add to or to strengthen my faith?
I’m resolved to really quickly assess what’s going on when I experience and react to a blindsiding event. I have to chuckle at this point; this is reading as though a blindsiding event occurs regularly. Even though it feels like it, it’s not true. I’m just learning along the way to seek to repent or correct my actions quickly, to be circumspect, to keep short accounts, to guard my blindsides: to determine to be real careful how I initially react when things seem to come out of nowhere.
I can sincerely attest that initial reactions, statements, or decisions can be dangerous, or damaging to myself, hurtful to others, or to relationships if the reactions are not harnessed and words not carefully chosen — especially when/if they’re of the flesh and not of faith.
I can also affirm that there’s never a second chance to say the right thing first. Lately a guiding principle has been: How would I wish someone would treat me were I to be in this same position? Most importantly, I sincerely know the things that happen in my life are for God’s glory and my good — this is where blind faith is continually established or cultivated. He’s already sifted all the events through His loving hands – and if this is true, and it is, then what’s happened may have blindsided me, but it didn’t blindside God.