Seeing his arm, waving like a windshield wiper out of his enormous truck, woke me from my buoyant reverie. I was singing along to “Beautiful” by MercyMe with Marina by my side, and admiring the bright sun, fall colors and cornflower blue sky, when we slowed to make a left turn.
There was unending traffic coming from the other direction, so as I waited to turn I looked into my rearview mirror and noticed several cars backing up behind me. That’s when I spotted the truck driver with the infuriated face, making sure I saw his middle finger pointed high in the air, loud and proud.
Man, I wasn’t in a fighting mood today.
I’m sorry bud, that you had to be inconvenienced to lift your foot from your gas pedal to apply pressure to your brake pedal so that I could turn into my daughter’s school. It truly is the biggest hassle ever.
Ah well, happy Monday.
Driving back home, I remembered another incidence of driver fury from years ago. At the time, my sister-in-law and brother’s young son had recently and very unexpectedly passed away and she was in her car, driving over to visit his grave.
Apparently, the people in the truck behind my sister-in-law thought she was going too slow. It was warm out and she had her windows down and so did they. As she started to turn right, into the cemetery, the driver passed closely around her car on the left, and the passenger of the truck leaned out of his window and spit on her arm.
That’s right, spit on her arm! On the arm of a dear grieving mom who had buried her beautiful, almost nine-month-old baby boy just weeks before.
Thinking about the mistreatment of someone I love still brings tears to my eyes. My heart is too tender for this world. I hate when people are unfairly wronged, in any way, for any reason.
When I arrived home today, I snuck out to my screen porch for a few minutes, my happy place. If I don’t visit happy places enough, the bad places can become bigger and more significant than they deserve to be. Of course, somebody waving their middle finger in traffic or even spitting on another is the very least of it. Just look around or switch on the tv.
For the most part, I choose to watch very little news and only briefly scan the headlines every few days. Just enough to be aware, but not enough to drag me under. Why God? Why so much hatred? Why so much anger and aggression and destruction? Why so much loss and abuse and heartache? And how are we to act in response to it, or in defense against it?
Maybe making up our minds before we even get out of bed, that today, today – we will do no harm? That today we will choose not to judge, not to shame, not to make assumptions, not to insult, not to curse and certainly not to spit on, even when we believe we have the right.
But, what if beyond that, we made up our minds to do good today, in every and all ways possible? What if we found pure joy in giving to our fellow man?
What if we gave blood, reached out to someone hurting, blessed a child or a neighbor, brought a meal or clothes or money to someone in need, taught someone to read or write, or welcomed a child without a family into our own? The possibilities of how we can “do good” are infinitely endless.
What if we made up our minds to accept each person for exactly who God made them to be, or pointed out to another human being how incredibly beautiful and loved by God they are? What if our ultimate happy place became the sweet spot where our default setting was, with God’s strength and power, to put others before ourselves? Praying, encouraging, protecting, hugging, including, smiling, cooperating, listening and loving.
Not an easy task, not an easy task at all.
Especially if the other person is not interested in, or has no intention of, treating others with kindness, or if we ourselves are not in the mood to show goodwill. Especially too, if we’re feeling empty or unworthy – feeling like we have nothing valuable to offer. We can’t give away what we don’t have for ourselves.
The truth is, though, there’s a spiritual battle going on all around us, and even in us, every single day. Good versus evil, plain and simple. And as much as we don’t want to acknowledge the reality of this war, it’s real.
All we need to do is to take a hard, hard look at what’s happening in the world and what has happened since the beginning of time. Also, to honestly assess what happens inside our own hearts and minds, daily.
Wanting so much to do good, and then wanting even more so, to return the insult thrown our way with an even bigger insult. There’s no denying the bitter conflict that rages ever on.
The loving part of me wanted to say to the angry man in the truck, “Oh, you’re so cranky when you don’t get your coffee in the morning.” And the hateful part of me wanted to slam into park, run back and climb up the side of his truck and smack him. And then spit on him for good measure – ha!
If feels like these types of battles are ever present, BUT, we were made for so much more than all of this. Each day can feel like a struggle, but life is short and there’s so much love to give. With Jesus, anything and everything is possible!
The absolutely great news is that He died for ALL of us, and that, in the end ***Big Spoiler Alert*** God defeats evil and does indeed win, once and for all. Hallelujah and Amen!! Let’s all be part of the amazing victory! Nothing, NOTHING in the world could make me happier.
1 Peter 3: 8 – 12 “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the scriptures say, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good, work hard at living in peace with others. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 4: 19 “So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.”