Yesterday a friend I've stayed in touch with since Kindergarten died. A drunk driver hit her early Sunday morning. The news media refers to him as an "alleged drunk driver" however he has a prior arrest history including a DUI so I think we can drop the "alleged". A drunk driver killed my friend.
Everyone who grew up with Caroline is remembering her exactly how they should, as a shining star. A spunky, confident shining star. It's really hard to believe how quickly her light went out. And since a drunk driver stole her light from us, naturally every friend is asking others not to drink and drive. However, I have to wonder if people mean "please don't drink and drive" or "please don't drive drunk" because our society has a strange way of distinguishing between these two phrases. Public service announcement folks: there is no difference. They are one in the same. I learned this on my first date with my husband.
I'll never forget my first date with Chris. One of the things that first attracted me to him had absolutely nothing to do with his stunning good looks, his gentlemen charm or the fact he is a fighter pilot. Oddly, it had to do with the fact he had a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving and he wasn't afraid to put me in my place on the matter.
We met for a lunch date, just a simple burger and beer and then walked to a local brewery for another beer. When I went to get behind the wheel he boldly stated, "This isn't a dig at you but I'm not cool with drinking and driving." To which I responded, as many Americans would, "I've only had two beers." "Yes and that is two beers too many," he replied. He was right and he wasn't afraid to let me know. From that point on, we called a Taxi, Uber or walked whenever we went out and had a beer or cocktail. And this is the way it remains for us now. One of us stays sober and I mean actually sober.
I never went out with the intention of drinking and driving. Although extremely unfortunate, in America it's socially acceptable to have a drink and drive as long as you don't drive drunk. However, the line between these is so thin, it practically doesn't exist. I'm not sure why in the United States the "DD" is usually the person who drinks the least, instead of the person who doesn't drink at all. Are we not capable of having a good time without having a drink?
And for whatever reason, we worry most about getting pulled over instead of the real risks of ending someone's life. When we get behind the wheel to drive after having "just a few" drinks, we never think about the very real possibility of killing someone. We never think about the real possibility of killing an elementary school music teacher who was so bright, it's hard for family and friends to imagine life without her. We only think about ourselves...what will happen if I get a DUI? We are so small-minded we do not consider the real possibilities and consequences of our decisions. The consequences of having a drink and driving.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
To think back over the times I probably shouldn't have been behind the wheel and think I risked killing someone every time I was in that circumstance, is scary, horrifying and embarrassing. And painful as I mourn the loss of a friend. It drives me to seek forgiveness from God and above all else give God thanks for protecting others from me over and over again.
I'm embarrassed to admit it took over 30 years and a rather crucial conversation between my now husband and I for me to redefine drinking and driving. The definition of drinking and driving is exactly that..having "a" drink, yes even 1 or 2, and getting behind the wheel. End of story. And as sad as this sounds, this was a big adjustment for me and took time for me to get used to (It's humiliating for me to admit this now but it's the truth). However, I'm so thankful to know I learned this lesson before I hurt or killed someone. Unfortunately, others haven't been so blessed. And it's times like these, when a friend has lost her life, I wonder why God protects some and not others. I have to believe God uses everything for His glory and good will come out of suffering (good in the God-sense not the human-sense). I believe this but it doesn't make the pain any easier.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
"I have the right to do anything," you say - but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything" - but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
I'm challenging you to not only make a commitment against drunk driving but make a commitment to not drink and drive. Support others around you who choose to go out and not drink because they are driving. There's something wrong with a culture in which we have to explain why we aren't having "one beer" when we say "I'm the designated driver." Let's commit to change that.
A commitment, a DD and Caroline,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.