What I Learned From My Big Brother About Those Who Hurt Me

Allison Vesterfelt

Recently, my older brother was in a bike accident. He wasn’t going to tell me about it (he hates to draw attention to himself or make a big deal out of things) but I heard the story from someone else and, of course, had a thousand questions. What happened? Are you okay? Were you wearing a helmet?

He was fine, he said. It wasn’t that big of a deal. But I kept pressing him to tell me the rest of the story, until finally he did.

*Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck, Creative Commons

*Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck, Creative Commons

He’d been biking to church when a driver, who had her left turn signal on, turned right instead. She didn’t check her mirrors before she turned, and since my brother was on the right hand side of her, she turned right into him. He went up on her hood, and then down on the ground, although he says he doesn’t remember that part very well. He was wearing a helmet, thank goodness, and he wasn’t badly injured. But his bike was mangled, his bag was ripped, and his arm was a little scraped-up.

As expected, traffic and people lurched to a halt in that moment to make sure my brother was okay. The driver of the vehicle was fairly young, and still learning how to drive. Her instructor was in the passenger seat, and leapt out of the vehicle immediately, apologizing and asking a dozen questions.

Even bystanders stopped and checked, with curious and inquisitive eyes, to make sure my brother was okay.

“What about the driver?” I asked my brother as he told me the story.

“She had her head in against the steering wheel,” he explained, “just sobbing.”

What my brother did next doesn’t surprise me, because he is my brother, and I’ve known him to do similar things. But this is an image that will last in my mind forever, and that immediately shifted my thinking about what to do when someone hurts me. With all the traffic and people still swirling around him, my brother asked the instructor:

“What’s her name?” He pointed to the driver.

“Candace.” The man responded.

And with that, my brother left his broken bike and ripped bag on the sidewalk where they had moved them, and walked to the other side of the car. He knelt down next to the driver-side window, and said, quietly, to the still-weeping young woman: “Candace, it’s okay. Accidents happen. Mistakes are how we learn. Thank goodness everyone is okay. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re all okay.”

I love that: “I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re all okay.” And I love the image of my brother, the victim in this circumstance, kneeling next to the person who hurt him, who acted carelessly and thoughtlessly, who could have easily taken his life if things had been even slightly different, saying,

“Candace, it’s okay. You’re okay, and I’m okay. We’re all okay.”

Now, I get the analogy can be a little sticky. Because not everyone who hurts us in life is as remorseful as Candace. And not every “close call” turns out as smoothly as this one with my brother. But it just made me think: This is the hope of the Gospel, isn’t it? That because of the power and the blood of Jesus Christ, we might be able to escape death, so to speak? That we might be able to stand up and walk out, free of injury and pain?

That, even in light of our biggest wounds, our closest calls, our most painful experiences, we might be able to say, to ourselves, and to those who hurt us, “It’s okay. I’m okay, you’re okay. We’re all okay.”

• • •
My brother’s story changes me — the image of him kneeling there on the ground, hand on Candace’s shoulder, even as she is sobbing. It reminds me to see that I’m okay, even when I make a huge mistake. Even when I hurt someone. It reminds me to pick my head up, and to choose to stop crying. It reminds me to apologize, learn and then keep living, keep “driving.”

And it reminds me, in the most beautiful way I could imagine, that it is possible to look into the face of someone who hurts me and say, “It’s okay. I’m okay, you’re okay. We’re all okay. Thank God.”

Allison Vesterfelt

Allison Vesterfelt

This is a post by Allison Vesterfelt, one of the Storyline Contributors. Allison is a blogger and the author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage . You can find out more about her on her website and make sure to follow along on Twitter (@allyvest) for regular updates. To read more of her posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.