“A service van’s coming up the driveway,” Keith called from the loft. “He’s spinning his wheels, spitting gravel, really tearing it up. Now he’s sideways and trying to back down. I’ve never seen such bad driving.”
I sighed. “I’ll go see if I can help.” In the garage, I laced up my trail shoes and grabbed my work gloves and the metal rake.
By the time I arrived, the young man had managed to back down the driveway—snapping two small trees alongside the road in the process—and had parked his van at the foot of our property. He walked up to meet me.
“You really did a job,” I said. “See where your tires dug in?” I pointed to the deep holes carved in our driveway.
“Yeah, I cut the corner too close. I thought I was going to have to call from backup. I was afraid I was going to fall off the mountain.”
I knew I should offer kindness, especially since I’d cut corners too close a few times myself and had “falling off the mountain” scares, sliding on ice. But instead of kindness, I said, “I’ll clear the trees and repair the holes in the driveway. Next time, swing wide around the turn.”
He shook his head. “I’m not going to try that again. I’ll keep the van where it is and walk up.”
While raking gravel to smooth over tire tracks and fill the holes, I said to myself, “I wish I’d been kinder. He was frightened.” Then I prayed, “Lord, please help me to be kinder next time.”
Every morning, I begin my day with devotionals, which ground me in the Word. Most days, I also set aside time for Bible study, either individually or in community. Last week, during personal study, these verses in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi spoke to me:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
I felt convicted, as well I should have. Instead of kindness and humility, I had chosen self-righteousness and pride. I’d looked to my own small interests, not to the greater interests of others.
“Lord, please help me to be kind,” I prayed.
Driving home from Charlottesville last week, I came upon a neighbor’s car along the mountain road. The driver’s-side wheels were suspended in the air. Trees had prevented the vehicle from rolling down the mountain. Tire tracks and muddy holes were carved into the shoulder of the road.
I parked into the next pullout, grabbed my cellphone, and walked back to the site of the accident. I wanted to make sure no one was in the car and in need of help due to injury or a health crisis. The neighbor’s adult son, who lives with his dad, came down the mountain road.
“Is everyone all right?” I asked. “It’s your dad’s car, yes? Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine, he’s fine. He was talking on his cellphone and not paying attention. Got distracted and ran off the road.”
“Do you need help?”
“No, my dad’s at home on the phone now. It’s okay, it’s okay.”
I could hear the upset in his voice. “Take care of yourself, Charlie*, and your dad. Tell him I’m glad he’s okay.”
As I walked back to my car, I thought about how kindness is easier when it’s not your property that’s been damaged. And how sometimes it’s easier to be kind to a neighbor than to a stranger, or the other way around. In truth, everyone is my neighbor.
Yesterday, the leader of our local Bible study group sent an email notification to us. At the end of her message, she wrote, “Came across this sometime this week…want to share it. ‘Teach me to order and savor this day so that at its end, I will have loved You – and others well.’ Think I might have to put that on my bathroom mirror.”
Amen, sister in Christ, amen.
This post on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S_EpK_W91s