“Oh no! I’m so sorry!” Her voice was pinched with anxiety. Her little boy stood beside her, his eyes big as hub caps. He had pushed a shopping cart through the parking lot with a little too much gusto and lost control of it. It careened into the door of a pick-up truck and dented the door. The truck was either new or meticulously cared for. Its owner, an older gentleman, surveyed the damage.
As I watched the scene unfold I was taken back to a knock at our door years ago. It was a police officer asking if I could come outside with our oldest son, who was about 8 at the time. As we walked across the cul-de-sac the officer told us that a neighbor had accused our son of scratching his truck. When we arrived at his driveway our neighbor stood surveying the damage.
“Your son scratched my truck,” the neighbor barked.
“I didn’t do that,” our son replied, his eyes big as hub caps.
“Did you see him scratch your truck,” the police officer asked?
“Well, no,” the neighbor replied. “But that scratch wasn’t there this morning and he’s been playing in the cul-de-sac all day.”
Our neighbor’s truck wasn’t the only thing damaged that day.
Back to the parking lot…
“We’ll pay to repair it,” the young woman pleaded. Her body language said that she was prepared for a verbal onslaught.
The older gentleman looked at the young woman, then at the boy, and smiled. “It’s just a dent. And he’s just a boy. I raised a few of my own. Don’t you worry about the truck.”
I hope the look of relief and gratitude on that mother’s face gave that older gentleman as much pleasure as its memory gives me even now.
A dent. A scratch.
One man’s choice broke hearts. Another man’s choice healed hearts.
What choice will you make today?
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN