Getting away and processing is imperative to keeping a healthy mindset, especially in the wake of personal loss. More than just time off work, time away from the thoughts and opinions of others; time to think my own thoughts and experience my own emotions.
Friday morning, as I headed out of town for a weekend of camping, I felt God tell me to shut off my phone. As soon as I reached Camp (because GPS), I set my phone on airplane mode and left it that way till I came home today.
There were several times I wanted to turn it back on but I stuck to my commitment and eventually settled in to life without constant contact. It’s amazing how refreshing that can be.
Today as I was catching up on all the texts, emails, and phone calls I missed, I discovered why God had wanted me to take that break. A firestorm of emails about the defendant in my father’s accident arrived in my inbox at once. Apparently much discussion took place on Friday and God knew it would have been a distraction from what He had for me this weekend.
Evidently Jack, the driver who’s truck made an untimely collision with my father, was arrested and released for violation of his pre-trial agreements. Specifically, it appears he failed a drug test for the use of marijuana.
Everyone processes grief differently but I’ve never felt any anger or animosity toward Jack, only sadness for the life he’s lived and the future he lost in a moment. It’s certainly not because I’m perfect, but because I’m forgiven, that I can have this attitude.
On this email chain are all the victims families and it’s clear that some don’t have the same compassion. Some choose words that seem to indicate they feel Jack got into his truck that morning on a hunt to see who he could kill.
(One email on a previous message said that letting Jack drive is “like giving a mass murderer access to his weapon of choice.”)
How such anger is present eludes me; we all have heard the same difficult information about Jack’s childhood and the pain in his life. It seems obvious to me that Jack was operating from a place of hurt that I could never imagine.
As I read through the emails this morning, my heart aches for these other victims. I wish they could find the freedom I’ve discovered in forgiveness. Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison hoping it kills the other person.
Then I opened up the court documents that were provided to us. As I read over the information my eyes fell on “Age: 21” and started crying.
Jack’s age is not new information to me; I’ve know since the beginning that he was 20 at the time of the accident. Today my heart broke at the realization that he’ll soon be behind bars, probably for the rest of his life.
Sometimes I wish I could be angry at Jack, just for a little while, and let this random act of tragedy be his fault. But I can’t; by God’s grace, the only emotions I can feel are remorse for the loss of his future and hope that God can redeem his remaining years. I hurt for the pain such a young man has already endured and wish he’d had someone like my dad in his life.
But if Jack is not to blame, who is?
Can I blame his boss for sending him home? No, he was just protecting his other employees from Jack possibly causing an accident on the job site.
Can I blame the police departments for “failing to prevent the accident” once warned? No, they responded to the best of their ability.
Can I blame the man who hurt Jack, resulting in the medications Jack took on the day of the crash? No, he was likely wounded himself by someone else.
At the end of all reasoning, it comes back to the pain of living in a world marred by sin. Hurt people hurt people who hurt people and no one makes it through life unscathed.
The only confidence for the future any of us have access to is in receiving the forgiveness purchased on the cross and then live as best we can reaching others with that hope.