June 5, 2006

Relationship or Right

This is a challenging story. I don't know that I would have responded this way. I am not even sure I think it is the right way to handle the situation. But it might be...

"Tom Wiles served a stint as university chaplain at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. A few years ago, he picked me up at the Phoenix airport in his new Ford pickup and whisked me away to keynote a leadership conference at the university. Since I was still mourning the trade-in of my Dodge truck, we immediately bonded, sharing truck stories and laughing at the bumper-sticker truism: 'Nothing is more beautiful than a man and his truck.'

As I climbed into his 2002 Ranger for the ride back to the airport a day later, I noticed two big scrapes by the passenger door. 'What happened here?' I asked.

'My neighbor's basketball post fell and left those dents and white scars,' Tom replied with a downcast voice.

'You're kidding! How awful,' I commiserated. 'This truck is so new I can smell it.'

'What's even worse is my neighbor doesn't feel responsible for the damage.'

Rising to my newfound friend's defense, I said, 'Did you contact your insurance company? How are you going to get him to pay for it?'

'This has been a real spiritual journey for me,' Tom replied. 'After a lot of soul-searching and discussions with my wife about hiring an attorney, it came down to this: I can either be in the right, or I can be in a relationship with my neighbor. Since my neighbor will probably be with me longer than this truck, I decided that I'd rather be in a relationship than be right. Besides, trucks are meant to be banged up, so I got mine initiated into the real world a bit earlier than I expected.'"

Leonard Sweet, Out of the Question...Into the Mystery (Waterbrook Press, 2004), p. 91-92; submitted by Michael Batdorf, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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