January 20--Today I shared on Facebook that today was the day that I had two minor car wrecks, six years apart. While shopping in Wal-mart a few years ago, I saw someone that triggered some really negative emotions in me regarding one of those wrecks.
The story: A few years ago her father had filed a lawsuit against me for a traffic accident in which I rear-ended his vehicle. On the scene, he had been so concerned for me and my then 5-month old baby, and he had refused ambulance treatment, saying he was fine. We knew his family fairly well, and it was written off as terrible luck for us both.
Then, out of the blue, two years later, I received a notice that I was being sued for his medical expenses and pain and suffering.
I was floored.
To be honest, I was scared to death that we would lose everything.
The lawsuit went to court in front of a jury, and I was an emotional mess; it was very traumatic for me. Although he was ultimately suing my insurance company, I took it very personally. He ended up being awarded a portion of his request. The insurance company paid. We moved on with our lives.
And then I saw her in Wal-mart.
Confession time: I avoided her. I went down different aisles so as to avoid eye contact. [Mature, I know]. Our daughters had grown up together; had played ball together. Yet and still, I was having a hard time even smiling in her direction.
Well, the Big Comedian above was having none of that and decided to push me out of my comfort zone.
There I was, minding my own business trying to pick out some Ziploc bags, and I hear her voice: "She's getting so big! You don't have a baby anymore!" as she pointed to Abbey.
Caught off guard, I smiled in agreement back at her.
And that's when it happened.
She began unloading on me about her current struggles with her two daughters and their bad choices, her ailing father (the same one who had sued me) and how taking care of him full-time was wearing her out. She was overwhelmed with her life, plain and simple, and she just needed a friendly ear to listen.
In that moment, I realized that she was not her father. She was not the reason I had been traumatized by the accident, the lawsuit, the trial. I was filled with compassion for this woman with the weight on the world on her shoulders. She just needed my smile. Standing there and seeing the pain in her eyes, I felt horrible.
I think I helped her that day.
But she also helped me.
I realized that day how much bitterness I had been carrying in my heart for her father. That very day, I prayed for forgiveness for holding on to that anger for so long. The whining and complaining about the experience needed to stop. It was time to release him from my All-the-People-Who-Have-Hurt-Me file cabinet and put that pain in my spiritual shredder. It was serving no Godly purpose.
Once again, God reminded me that absolutely everybody you meet has a story.
And, if you're willing to stay in the same aisle with them, you might actually learn something.
"Then hear from heaven and forgive, and render to every man according to all his ways, whose heart You know; for You, and You alone, know men's hearts." 2 Chronicles 6:30
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