Then as I drove back home contemplating the regularity of my encounters with rude and unhappy people I had the pleasure of witnessing two drivers in the throes of road rage. One was driving terribly and clearly did not know where they were going. As a result they caused another driver to swerve out of a lane more than once. I understand how incredibly frustrating it is to be the one nearly side swiped by a driver who is clearly not driving wisely but, I have also been the one making stupid mistakes on the road from time to time and generally on accident. I know that we are all guilty of that. Of course the driver who was being inconvenienced had to make sure his voice was heard. He sped up and began tail gating the terrible driver in front of him. He swerved wildly in and out of a lane to pace the bad driver, which caused others on the road to become very aware of the road rage behavior. Finally he pulled up next to the still clueless driver, rolled down his window and exchanged some choice words. Testosterone at it's finest of course. The clueless driver who had evidently made a wrong turn and was back in a lane to get onto the freeway once again was not about to tolerate the attack. He chose to participate in the screaming match and he even added a few lovely hand and finger gestures to the event. Then the light turned green and they went their separate ways either feeling better or worse about what had transpired. I was a bit amused and definitely entertained by it all but, I was also grieved.
Do we realize how little we accomplish by stooping to the same level as the bad driver, the rude clerk, the foolish person and the evil person? Will we ever learn that this pattern only begets more evil, violence and unkindness? Will we ever see that we are all a small part of a big problem and we can choose not to be...by learning how to take a deep breath, swallow our pride and forgive instead of fighting back.
I don't think that turning the other cheek comes naturally to us at all but, if we desire to be a blessing in this life then perhaps it would be wise if we trained ourselves daily in the practice of humility and grace. Prepare yourself for the fact that people are in a hurry on the road and mistakes are constantly being made. Leave room between you and other drivers for grace. Prepare yourself for the fact that so many people are hurting and angry and they are taking those emotions out on the wrong people. Leave room for love, forgiveness and mercy.
We aren't perfect of course and even when we try we will still make mistakes. We might start our day with the best of intentions and yet by mid day find that we have lashed out at someone in anger or cut someone off on the road purely for the satisfaction of doing it.
I had one particular night that my stress got the better of me. I got lost driving somewhere far from home and anyone that knows me well knows that getting lost while driving stresses me out more than just about anything. I have no sense of direction whatsoever. It's really quite pathetic actually. My phone battery died and I was relying on the GPS on my phone to find my destination. I was so overwhelmed. I was also driving my husband's enormous truck that I am not comfortable in. I pulled into a ridiculously packed college parking lot with compact spaces and truly did my best park job with the beast of a truck, between two tiny cars who were not parked straight. I even backed the truck out and corrected as much as I felt I could in my crooked space. I had waited a good while for that tiny parking spot to become available and as I parked and got out of my truck, the car next to me pulled out. I began marching to the closest burger joint full of emotional turmoil. A man in another large truck yelled at me from across the parking lot, "hey lady, can you fix that park job? There aren't any other spots in here and I need that one." I was boiling. I am laughing as I write this now but, in that moment I did not find any of it funny. I was late to my appointment, it was dark and I didn't know where I was. I was only parked crooked because the car next to me had been crooked...the car that was now gone and now someone was yelling at me half way across a parking lot to go back to my car and re-park it for the 3rd time to accommodate him.
Honestly, the calm me would have done this with a smile on my face and a happy, "Sure, no problem sir." The stressed out, lost, overwhelmed, about to cry me, was not able to respond that way. I looked at this man and a whole slew of things flashed across my mind that I'd like to say to him. I am not great at being mean even when I am mad (honest!) but, I tried my best and managed a halfhearted and rude, "well, I guess I have to don't I." I marched back to my truck, pulled it out and parked it again and then got out and nervously stormed pass the other driver without making any eye contact. I really wanted to make a point and it felt good for like all of ten seconds. I glanced back only before heading into the burger joint to see that he had parked completely crooked. I shook my head in irritation but, hoped he wasn't eating at the burger place because, I was already starting to feel guilty about my rudeness. I didn't want to see him again because, in the state that I was in, I would probably start bawling and through snot and tears I would tell him my story and beg for forgiveness. Thank goodness he ate somewhere else which gave me time to calm down and reflect on my my poor choices.
I don't want to be that person. She comes out once in a blue moon and I never like the outcome. The next time that I am feeling this pressed and squeezed I want to sit for a minute and breath before I speak to anyone or I might end up regretting what I say. lol The truth is that nothing justifies bad behavior...nothing. We all have a choice to turn the other cheek and to love like Christ loves us. Christ, who forgives us over and over again for our sins without striking us down as we well deserve. Choose love today even in the face of unkindness and you just might be a blessing to a broken person. You just might prevent an accident or brighten the skies over a stormy city. Choose love!