The route to my girls’ school takes us over a hill so narrow that two cars cannot fit side by side. When there are oncoming cars one driver must yield the right of way, duck behind a parked car, and/or otherwise figure out how to share the road. These interactions as a great witness to urban community working together while as we all try to get where we are going without delay.
But last week was different.
Last week there was some finger wagging.
As I was coming up over a turn at the top of a hill and entering a steep downgrade, I pulled to the side to let the approaching car pass. As the car approached, through the front windshield I could see the driver staring right at me with a wagging finger directed my way as if to say, “I’m coming up, don’t take the road.”
Wait, what? Did she just wag her finger at me? Yes, I believe she did.
Now, MAYBE I could understand a good finger wagging if I was actually moving and about to violate our unspoken road sharing agreement. But I was already stopped and had clearly pulled to the side to let her pass. And worse, as she passed by, I could see that she had her phone up to her ear. Yes, steering a moving vehicle, finger wagging AND talking on the phone. Awesome.
The best part was that my Middle daughter was in the car and saw the whole thing,
“Dad, did that lady just wag her finger at you?”
“Yes, and if you weren’t here I might have wagged one of my fingers right back at her.”
Now, I am not sure that I would have actually offered the one finger salute if my daughter was not in the car, but I know that my impulse to do so at that very moment was greatly tempered by her presence. This incident and my reaction got me thinking about why we do or do not do the things we do and doe sit matter if someone (or God) is watching.
Now I have never been one of those, passive aggressive, finger-wagging “God is watching you!” kind of Christians — at least I don’t think I have. But that does not mean that I do not believe it to be true. I do believe that God is present and aware of what I do in the world. While I don’t think God is voyeuristically watching my every step through some big ass binoculars in the sky ready to hit the “smite” button with every wrong decisions, I do think that God’s eyes are upon me hoping and yearning that I made good and faithful choices in life.
One of the ways that I believe God does watch us is through the eyes of those around us, those whom we trust to have the same yearnings and hopes for us as God. These folks must be paid attention to lest we falter and act in ways that are not healthy or holy. While I am not a big fan of what many “accountability” groups have turned into – groups that use shame and guilt force certain behaviors – I do think each of us has to have people around us who can hold us accountable and remind us that God has hopes for us ever greater than we could hope for ourselves.
For some this will come from an intentional accountability group, for others a deep and abiding friendship and for others their daughter sitting in the car wondering how Dad will react to an unfriendly gesture. Accountability takes different forms for different people, but no matter how well-behaved we may believe ourselves to be, we must be intentional about being aware when we may stray. If we not, we run the risk of simple acting off of impulses and creating situations to not help anyone to grow into who God intends.
So today, in light of one small victory in my , I am grateful to God for those who have held me accountable over the years, I am sorry for the times that I have not listened, and I am ever-hopeful that I will be more receptive in the future.