I write this with full apologies to my friend, John, knowing that he is never one to seek honor for himself, other than living in an honorable manner. But I find his example so compelling that I believe it needs sharing.
I sat in his office on Monday, visiting with him regarding his mother’s death. Although my own mother passed away a few years ago, it was nothing like this. My mother passed away slowly, a steady loss of weight and strength. John’s mother was struck by a motor vehicle on Friday afternoon. Not only is each passing different, each loss is as well. We are each different, each relationship has its own character and each loss has its own distinctive elements. Even if my mom had been taken suddenly, I would not presume to know what John is experiencing but I do trust that there is pain and grief.
As we talked in this sharing of sorrow, John said something that struck me as quite remarkable.
“You know, the one I keep thinking about is that twenty-one-year old young woman that was driving that car. We’ve got our family and our friends; we have a great support system. I hope that she has that but I can’t help wondering about her. I hope that she’s got people to support her.”
We spoke a while longer about the heavy burden that she will carry, regardless of the exact circumstances of the accident. Whether she was texting at the time or distracted by something else or if it was purely a matter of Mimi not thinking to look both ways before crossing the street, this young woman will live with the realization that she was driving the vehicle that killed someone. She will need much support, counsel, love and forgiveness.
That is exactly what John hopes that she receives.
Over the weekend, he posted on Facebook his appreciation for the outpouring of love and caring that his family was already receiving. He thanked everyone for their prayers. And he also asked them to be praying for the driver.
This is exactly what Jesus told us to do, isn’t it? “Pray for your enemies… do good to those who do you harm… love your enemies.” Even when they had no intention of being your enemy.
Many people in such a situation would incubate hate and rehearse anger in their hearts, chaining themselves to darkness and entertaining fantasies of vengeance. John and his family have made a different choice, a choice that liberates them, a choice that celebrates the grace by which we are called.
Just knowing people like this makes me want to be a better person.