One of the scariest parts of teaching someone to drive is sitting in the passenger seat when they’re learning how to change lanes. Once you’ve been driving for a while, the process of quickly checking and re-checking your mirrors while keeping your speed up and staying in your lane becomes second nature. But at the beginning, it’s like you’re asking them to cook a 4-course meal while playing the flute and giving your dog a bath…impossible.
They look at the rearview mirror for a bit longer than necessary, and suddenly they’re inches away from the bumper of the car in front of them. The side mirrors with their message: “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” just feels like a Fun House in a horror movie to a new driver. If they can’t trust their mirrors, they don’t know what to believe.
And you can’t teach the concept of changing lanes without touching on the dreaded blind spot. It’s different for every vehicle, but when you’re about to change lanes and you look over your right shoulder only to see a car barreling down the interstate who wasn’t there just seconds before, it can be a frightening reality check. As you try to slow your heartbeat down to a rate that’s normal instead of one which indicates you’re being chased by a werewolf, you ask yourself, “What would’ve happened if I didn’t look first?”
The way to know you’re achieving master-level status in your driving skills is when you can anticipate when the drivers around you want to change lanes, and you react when you realize you are in their blind spot. Here’s the scenario: You’re going a little faster than the car to your left, and you just get a gut-feeling that they want to be in your lane. You speed up to move out of the danger zone. No problem. But the only reason you knew this scenario was playing out in the car of the stranger next to you is because you’ve been there before.
This idea of finding understanding due to common experiences doesn’t just apply to driving. A friend who can practice empathy is worth her weight in gold (or my preference: chocolate. You can’t eat gold!). If you stumble upon people who act out 1 Corinthians 12: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it,” then you’ve found something pretty special.
Why are we able to comfort and bless those who are suffering in this very personal way? It’s because we are made in the image of our Creator who, as 2 Corinthians 1 tells us, is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” That is recycling at its very best. Pass that heavenly comforter down to me, please! I could use that kind of snuggling.
In Hebrews 4:14-16, we read that we have a great High Priest (Jesus) who has “been there, done that” way before we were even a twinkle in our mother’s eyes. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We can’t shock him with our bad behavior and crippling baggage. He knew we were veering into that blind spot before we did. Now that we know that about our Heavenly Father and High Priest, it’s time to extend that grace to others.