“I didn’t just hit the side of that car, did I?” I wondered nervously, as my stomach did a flip-flop and my foot hit the brake.
I was easing out of a parking spot, being extra careful not to come too close to the car on my right, but I was out of practice with driving the big truck, and the right side mirror was broken, making going in reverse a tricky thing to do. Sure, the noise I heard prior to hitting the brakes caused me a moment’s panic, but I felt sure that all was well.
“No, there’s no way I could have hit that car,” I reassured myself.
Despite my efforts of reassurance, as I pulled forward and made my way to the exit of the parking lot, I found myself scoping out the car at a distance to make sure there was no obvious sign of damage. Luckily, I didn’t see anything, though I confess my eyesight isn’t 20/20.
Driving home, I thought my stomach and heart would calm down.
My questions and fears only intensified.
“Maybe I should have stopped to check for damage.”
“What if someone saw me hit the car and leave? What if they report it?”
“What if I get home and find new damage on the right side of our truck?”
“What if I go back to the parking lot and the car is not there?”
“How will I ever get rid of this awful feeling?”
Pulling into my driveway, I hurried around the truck and saw exactly what I was SURE wouldn’t be there. A big scratch.
My heart rate increased tenfold.
“What am I going to do?” I wondered to myself.
Thankfully, my kids, who had just run out from the house, saw me eyeing the scratch said, “Daddy saw that scratch last week. He doesn’t know how it happened.”
Oh, the relief that flooded my mind and body at that moment!
But wait! What was that long scratch just below and to the front of the scratch we were looking at? Was THAT part of the original scratch, or was it new damage?
The kids didn’t know.
The car that I MAY have hit WAS a small car, so the damage would be located lower on the truck.
My heart began to race again. The roller coaster of emotion continued.
“What’s wrong?” my daughter asked me.
“Oh nothing,” I replied, sure that there was nothing I could do at this point. If I went back, the car was sure to be gone. Besides, if I did hit the car, there was probably just minimal damage and the owner would laugh it off, right?
We went into the house and I began putting groceries away. My mind was racing with thoughts, but despite all efforts, my attempts at assuaging my growing tumultuous feelings were futile.
I HAD to return to the parking lot to see if the car was still there. I HAD to verify that there was indeed no damage.
HEART CRAFTED: Connecting with Others in Meaningful Ways
QUESTIONS RUNNING THROUGH MY MIND
Leaving my kids with my sister, I climbed back in the truck and made the long drive back to the parking lot. The ten-minute drive felt more like an hour as I considered every possible negative outcome of this situation.
“The owner will be there when I arrive and he will be livid.”
“I’ll see obvious damage to the car and leave a note on the windshield. The angry owner will call right away.”
“The damage will cost thousands of dollars to repair.”
“These awful feelings will never go away.”
My heart and stomach were still riding the roller coaster of emotion, with no end in sight.
As I approached the parking lot, I discovered that things were worse than I had imagined. Much worse.
Two police cars, with lights on, were parked next to the car in question. I suddenly had visions of being arrested for a hit and run. Slowly, I pulled the truck into a nearby parking spot and jumped out, just as one of the police vehicles drove away. I made my way to the car and carefully inspected it for any damage. Nothing caught my eye. I looked again and again.
The side of the car.
The back of the car.
The front of the car.
Just to be sure.
I started back to my truck and then did a 180 to check again. The car was as clean and spotless as a car on the dealership floor. Nevertheless, I walked to the truck, measured the height of the scratch and compared it to the car at the same height. There was nothing but smooth white paint.
I couldn’t believe it.
I HADN’T hit the car.
The police WEREN’T there for me.
I climbed in the truck and whispered a prayer of gratitude.
A ROLLER COASTER RIDE
Driving home, my heart and stomach THRILLED to be nearing the end of THAT roller coaster ride, my thoughts returned to the powerful emotions I had been feeling. I was reminded that Heavenly Father gives us these feelings to help us. We’re given feelings that let us know that something might be amiss, that there may be something we need to do if we desire to continue to have a righteous, pure, and honest heart. I was grateful in that moment for these awful, “roller coaster of emotion” feelings that were powerful enough to make me stop what I was doing and take action. I know that to leave these feelings unheeded would lead to my becoming desensitized to them, and I never want that to happen. I always want to be made fully aware, through my feelings, of anything I might have done wrong.
SHARING THE LESSON LEARNED
Pulling into the driveway, I knew what I had to do.
Entering the house, I gathered my kids and their cousins around me and asked, “Would you like to hear a story? A true story? One that just happened to me?”
“Yes!” they shouted in unison.
I shared every suspenseful detail with them and then watched as they each smiled and agreed that, no, we don’t EVER want to become desensitized to these feelings—these feelings that are a gift to us from our Heavenly Father.
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