I took up a habit recently. At the end of the day when I put my hands together to pray, I not only give thanks for all the blessings God sent my way, but I also take a moment to reflect on all the bad things that did not occur.
It’s making me much more optimistic and hopeful about life, love and the beautiful world that God affords us.
I travel a great bit for my work, and a recent excursion brought me to Los Angeles. I spent five years in that place fighting two-hour plus commutes each day, ridiculously long lines and incomprehensible congestion everywhere I went. Plus there was the fear that at any minute an earthquake or a riot could erupt. The combination of all that would send most people into a state of anxiety and depression.
Mired in the mayhem and confusion of downtown Los Angeles, while looking for a specific street address, I apparently flew right through a red light. (I say apparently because I still have no recollection of having done this and haven’t given up on the possibility that the light mysteriously manifested itself after I already passed through it.)
Suddenly I was careening through a busy intersection with dozens of cars rushing toward me from both sides. As the cacophony of blaring horns, screeching tires and the muted sounds of drivers screaming from inside their insulated cocoons filled my ears, terror filled my heart.
But somehow as if I was performing a well-practiced routine, I applied just the right pressure to my brakes not to lose control of the vehicle, while also masterfully steering my way through the obstacle course of vehicles encroaching in their perpendicular attack as if I had done it a thousand times before. I knew I was doing all that was in my power to avoid catastrophe. But still, ultimately I was forced to simply watch as my car prepared to hit the car now directly ahead of me.
As I watched in seeming slow motion, my eyes stared in laser like focus at the car I was about to hit, I could see the driver, a young professional man in his 30s, lose his carefully constructed composure as he stared in shock at what was about to happen.
My rate of deceleration was increasing as the brakes slowly began to win their battle over my awesome momentum. But was there enough time? As feet became inches, I watched my potential victim go from surprise to horror.
I instinctively prayed for guidance and protection. And suddenly a sense of calm, composure and confidence that dare I say came straight from my faith filled my heart.
So close I could no longer even see the door panel of the car I was about to hit, I saw the driver’s face suddenly change from fear to hope. Just then my car came to a standstill, a paper-thin space standing between us. A big smile enveloped the man’s face, as he raised his hand and gave me a jubilant thumbs up.
I gave thanks to God, took a deep breath, and then followed the blinking lights of the officer who was pulling me over for running the red light to the side of the road.
I am not incredibly happy about the fine I had to pay for the ticket. But every day I remind myself of three things: Pray for God’s guidance, hope for the best, and when the worst doesn’t happen, give thanks.