It Could’ve Been Worse!
I was part of a team of leaders taking middle school students to a camp in the Rocky Mountains along with three other adult volunteers. The director had organized several borrowed vehicles for the journey. I was driving a mini-van packed to the brim with six noisy girls and their stuff. It was bedlam. Sixth to eighth graders equate “van ride to camp” with “candy and sugared beverages binge!” Not long into the trip, an emergency bathroom break was required, so our caravan pulled into a gas station in a little mountain town. I was the first to park. Minutes later, in the van again, I began to back up. That’s when I heard the sound no driver wants to hear: Frantic honking mixed with the sickening thud of crunching metal. I had reversed my way right into another youth leader’s car! Jumping out of my BORROWED vehicle, I learned that Ben, another leader, had parked right behind me. Oh, Ben, I thought, why would you do that?! Immediately, lousy thoughts bombarded my brain.
“Who parks like that?”
“Why did he do this?”
“Whose idea was this bathroom break anyway?!”
“This is the students’ fault! They distracted me!”
Trying to keep my composure, I became very aware of six pairs of eyes and six noses pressed up against the windows of the van, watching my every move. And in the car I hit, there were five more young faces watching me. Talk about a chance to “role model”! So, I shoved the lousy questions aside and set to work, asking, “What can I do to fix this?” I ran inside, purchased duct tape, and together, Ben and I began taping his now dangling side mirror back on. Then I saw the massive dent in Ben’s driver side door and thought, Oh, man. Bummer! When the youth pastor came over to check on us, he stood with his hands on his hips and kind of shook his head as if to say, “Silly little volunteer. You need to be more careful.”
When it was time to go, we all got into our cars. Still shaking a bit, I was ready to move on— physically and emotionally. But then I saw something I couldn’t believe: The youth pastor, with his car now moving backward, slamming right into a cement pillar! The back of his borrowed van swallowed the pole. All I could do was watch. The Sugar High Gang in my vehicle immediately became deathly silent. They were now waiting—again—to see how I’d respond. I opened my door, got out, and walked over to where the pastor was now standing surveying the damage. Moving in close, I put my arms around his waist and squeezed him tight. He looked down at me—since he’s a foot taller—and I looked up, smirking. Now staring into my husband, Erik’s, eyes, I didn’t say a word. Not being able to stand it anymore, with guilt and shame written all over his face, he said, “Fine, I admit it! I had been thinking some really prideful thoughts about you and your little accident!”
It was a marvelous moment.
As the oldest of seven Miller kids, I’ve grown up knowing about QBQ! and its message of personal accountability. But it’s like being a pastor’s kid: You hear it so much it’s easy to forget how powerful it is. But on that accident-prone day in the Colorado Rockies, I was reminded of how practical—and necessary—asking The Question Behind the Question really is. That day at the gas station could’ve turned out much worse if I had succumbed to the temptation to ask lousy questions, and a terrible example would’ve been shown to the youth.
Plus, I’d have missed a perfectly precious moment with my husband, one that I will never forget. In fact, I may even mention it to him now and then—just for fun.
Kristin E. Lindeen
QBQ! speaker/workshop leader