A week and a half ago my wife and son were nearly killed while walking across the street.
The day began like any other with my wife, Jenny, and I walking our kids to school. As Jenny and our 5-year-old son took a left and began crossing the street, my daughter and I prepared to continue walking straight in the direction of her school.
Looking the other way, I heard Jenny let out a scream that can only be described as primal – part fear, part anger, and all survival. I whipped my head in the direction of the sickening sound in time to see my wife throw herself in front of my son and into the path of an oncoming bus. The bus driver, failing to see my now petrified family in the crosswalk, was merely feet away from them. Without exaggeration, the bus shrieked to a halt, stopping just a foot away from my helpless wife and son. This was a traumatic experience to say the least.
In shock, I double, and triple checked the lights to see how this could have gone so wrong. Seeing that Jenny and my son were in the right, I yelled to the bus driver incredulously, “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO YIELD!” The bus driver meekly responded, “I know, I already said I’m sorry!” Knowing that yelling further wasn’t going to subtract the horrible memory from my mind, I turned my attention to my shaken family.
After ensuring everyone was ok, (more mentally than physically), Jenny and I finished taking the kids to school. Meeting up at home, neither of us were in a mental position to continue with our normal routine. As a result, we went for a walk around town to process the horror that nearly occurred. For me, the dominant emotion was fear. Fear, that we did everything right – walk with our kids, wait for our turn to cross, look in both directions, and still nearly had our lives destroyed in a blink of an eye.
The accompanying thought to this emotion was, “there was absolutely nothing I could have done to control and/or prevent that situation from happening.”
This was a troubling thought to come to terms with. I had no control in this situation and my family was nearly decimated. The same way that lightning nearly struck my home a couple of weeks ago (it hit a building about 100 yards away), when God, the Universe, the Simulation, whatever you want to call it, wants to enforce their will, their will is going to be felt.
When exploring my lack of control in this world, the word “faith” isn’t far behind. That is, having faith that a power I cannot explain or understand, has their fingerprints on my life. Up until a couple of years ago, “faith” is something you would rarely, if ever, hear me talking about. Previously, I scoffed at the word and rather looked to mantras such as, “if it is to be, it’s up to me,” for ultimate guidance and direction. While I still think it’s beneficial and necessary to have a personal responsibility outlook when viewing the world, I have added a faith-colored lens to my sight.
Admittedly, this has not been an easy transition. I struggle with questions such as…
“What do I have faith in?”
“What do I try to control and what do I let go of?”
“How do I know if I have enough faith?”
“Is my faith being returned?”
I don’t anticipate the answers to these questions will come easily. My life has been both more difficult and improved since “faith” has entered my life. Difficult because I can no longer hide behind the thought of, “I can control everything.” What’s left is a feeling of helplessness, confusion, and wanting at times. To put it simply, it can be scary to realize I’m out of control. When not dwelling on the negative that faith elicits, I can see that my life has taken on, more curiosity and exploration, more trust, less regret, and less worry. It’s a contradictory relationship at times with good and bad days that if I had to guess, have less to do with faith and more to do with my ability to trust.
The great boxer, Roy Jones Jr., once said, “when God is on your side, no man can defeat you.” I don’t really think that anyone is against me, nor do I think that whatever higher power there is actually takes sides. However, I do think Roy is onto something. When we perceive that there is someone or something, by our side, that’s a competitive advantage no one can neutralize. Call it faith, trust, belief, whatever, in my current experience, it is something real.
As I turn my attention away from the near-miss at the intersection, I look to a future with plenty of dangerous proverbial intersections ahead. I could try to anticipate every fearful exchange to keep myself and my family 100% safe. However, I’m confident that in doing so, I would exert an overabundance of personal responsibility, thus suffocating the joy, trust, and love from life – the same things I’m trying to preserve. Instead, I’m choosing a portion of personal responsibility and an equal portion of faith. I’m still experimenting with the portion sizes, but it’s a combo that seems to be undefeated.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with $1M to $20M in revenue, helping them to improve their leadership and company culture.