I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is my first column, it’s called “Two Little Words”.
My wife and I have two young children. We like to go on family bike rides around town, we run simple errands, go to the gym, ride to lunch, or whatever strikes us. When we ride, I tow the children in a trailer (with both of them plus the trailer, it’s an extra 75 lbs or so), all four of us wear our helmets, and we normally have a great time.
Last Saturday, we did not have a great time, to the say the least.
I was traveling south down 10 St, when I had to slam on my brakes, back tire fish tailing, while attached to a trailer hauling my kids. As a car turned right in front of me and another car started to turn left into me. Somehow, through the grace of God I was able to stay straight. I yelled “[expletive deleted] WATCH OUT” at the car turning left, as the car that pulled out in front of me drove off. It was a close call.
Later as my wife and I were traveling west on 1st Corso between 16th and 18th, a route we decided to take because it would be “safer” than riding down Central Avenue. I heard a yell and a screech behind me. I turned around and saw my wife on the ground; an SUV had backed out 3/4 of the way onto the street in front of her. The woman driving said, “Are you ok?” and drove off without an apology.
When we got home I was furious at those drivers for being unaware, inconsiderate, and dangerous to others on the road. I wanted to remind them that bike riders have a right to the road, just like any other vehicle. I wished that there were a safe place for my family to bike together that was easily accessible. I was frustrated, scared, and angry.
Then I took a moment to breathe, thank God that while we had a couple of close calls, nothing REALLY bad happened. It got me thinking about how I react when I am angry, scared, and frustrated.
The woman who almost turned into me, saw me I know she did, but as I passed her she didn’t even make eye contact, she stoically stared straight ahead. I wish she had just looked at me and mouthed those two little words, “I’m sorry”. It would have made all the difference. If the woman, who almost backed over my wife, had said, “I’m sorry. Are you ok?” I think it would have helped a lot. I’m sure I’d still be scared and mad, but I believe it would have helped me a lot not be less resentful of those people.
Those two little words, “I’m sorry”, are so powerful. In this day and age we rarely hear them or say them, we’re afraid we’ll be seen as weak or, worse, liable. The truth is we all make mistakes, sometimes cause accidents, sometimes we do or say something we shouldn’t have to our neighbors, to our coworkers, or to our kids. We all make mistakes but when we are able to stop, take a breath, and say, “I’m sorry” it can go a long way to repair the damage done.
I try to admit when I’m wrong, I try to say, “I’m sorry” if I mess up (which happens far more often than I care to admit). I try to say it to my wife, to my kids, to my congregation members, to my friends, and anyone I’ve wronged. My hope is that by saying, “I’m sorry” that people will forgive my sins, as I hope to forgive those who have sinned against me.
I’m still mad about almost getting hit last weekend, I still wish there were a safe and easily accessible bike trail around town, and I still wish more people said, “I’m sorry”.
Gandhi said, “Be the change, you hope to see in the world.”
So, I guess it starts with me. Where can you start?
At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite” I hope to share with you some of my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.
Favorite– “Guardians of the Galaxy”- I saw the movie Sunday night and I loved every minute of it, even down to the scene after the credits (you should stay for it.) I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a superhero movie as much as this one.
Not Favorite- Almost getting run over while riding my bike. (see above for details.)