In a brief moment of grandeur today, I was able to speak to another adult in a conversation that had NOTHING to do with my children. As we chatted, the other participant was driving (with the phone safely programmed into the car speaker due to safety and all that jazz). ***Note- don’t turn up the volume or the car next to you might get an ear-full…and THAT can get interesting.
Suddenly the conversation broke into a deeply frustrated tirade that I’ll admit, had me completely silent and enthralled.
“AH! Okay, I love old people. I’m going to be one soon, but holy moley there are some dangerous drivers! The man just came to a complete stop before turning off of the street and took up half my lane to do it in! Then another young hot-shot decided he didn’t want to wait for the traffic that stopped behind the old guy, so he whipped around us, cut off 6 cars and barely- I mean by 6 inches- pulled into the space behind a car at the red light.”
Eek. Now for the driver-interaction stage.
“He cut off 5 cars and nearly caused a wreck! I pulled up next to this guy, because I’m turning right, and tried to make eye-contact. Would he look at me? NO! He was too busy texting! When he did look up at me I was shaking my finger at him (caveat- NOT the middle one, but the “let me tell you what!” index finger point) and he ROLLED HIS EYES and then sped off with a cocky smile!”
Then it got personal.
“I am SO tired of the entitled attitudes and disrespect! It goes beyond bad driving! He’s driving around in a BMW, whipping around us who are in his way and flaunting his Arab money!”
WOAH. I NEVER expected that one to come out of her mouth.
That is when I spoke up: “What do you mean Arab money? That’s pretty extreme.”
I soon stood corrected.
“No, really. There was a bumper sticker on the back of the BMW that literally read, ‘Arab Money’. “
“Now how am I supposed to not be impacted by THAT? “
That’s a good question.
I’ve been pondering this situation all evening and I’ve come to a major conclusion. Character and sin nature really come out in crowds of strangers. It’s one thing to love our enemies, but quite another to love them in traffic. Smiling and giving the benefit of the doubt to the drivers with stickers that make ugly political comments, say “Rich Bitch”, “My other ride is your wife” is hard for me…especially when they say I’m not supposed to judge on first impressions.
This driver might be a lovely person who feeds the homeless and gives half of his ‘Arab money’ to charity, but what are we to think of that kind of sticker? I confess that I am struggling to feel loving and accepting of this young man who drives so inconsiderately in an expensive car and flaunts a sticker that separates himself as having “Arab Money”. It’s a loaded statement at best.
Life is a lot like driving the roads. When we are on our way to get somewhere directly and our own urgency is our priority, we can really see love come out. Are we going to let someone into our lane when they put on the blinker? What about when it might make you miss the yellow light? Do you let people into the lane when the traffic line is frozen and work begins in 12 minutes? Do you let the little old ladies take their time or speed ahead as if to say, “Get out of my way!”
We naturally gravitate toward people we have things in common with. When people ‘come into our lane’ in life, it can be easier to give the benefit of the doubt to someone like us or whose circumstances we understand. It’s easier to disassociate with those who are different or all for something we are firmly opposed to. Before we know it we are sharing the road not with fellow passengers, but road-hogging enemies.
Not all enemies declare themselves. Some are stealthy. Some are liars, or ‘frienemies’. Some come right out in the open.
It’s hard to pray for the enemies that truly are- by definition- my enemies. I know many generations of veterans who still struggle with prejudices against the nationalities they went to war against. We had a family member who refused to eat pasta because of what the Italians did. He was never nasty or cruel, but when someone hates and tries to hurt you, it is hard to forgive. We react when we feel justified– when someone runs us off the road, insults our children, assaults a loved one, or tries to steal, kill and destroy. Loving through that is hard to do.
I have the privilege of being a military wife. There are people who hate us and want us dead. They are actively trying to make me a widow, but I have to love them. It’s not natural. It hurts. It’s an emotional wrestling match sometimes. However, my judgements don’t matter anymore. I’ve committed to serve Jesus. When the Commander says to serve them, love them and to pray for people, that’s an order, not a suggestion. That applies on and off the battlefield…and on and off the road.
I confess that I’m not the best at loving my enemies or my fellow drivers. Sometimes I wreck. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing. Sometimes I reach out my arm and choke someone doing the ‘second seatbelt’ thing that moms do.
So what to do? When you ding a door, own up. When you rear end someone, pay for the damage. Wave. Let people in. Take turns. Forgive one another.
Love is harder than road rage. Just like driving, we learn by doing.
Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.