If I believed a defense of temporary insanity was a bunch of hogwash before that moment, I now knew differently. I truly did lose my mind.
The roads were terribly icy, and snow was coming down. I was dismayed that they weren’t given a snow day, but was taking the twenty-five minute drive to my daughter’s school slowly and carefully. About half way there, a bigger vehicle came up behind mine on the curvy, two-lane road and stayed on my bumper for about a mile until we came to a stoplight that had just turned red.
When I looked in my rearview mirror, I saw a woman in the driver’s seat pressing her two middle fingers against the inside of her windshield, and turning bright purple from all the screaming and ranting she appeared to be directing my way.
How dare her? I thought, and without taking a second to breathe, I threw my car into park, whipped the door open and marched straight back to her driver’s side window.
She rolled it down and I said, “What’s your problem?! Don’t you see how terrible the roads are?!”
She replied, “You’re the problem, you #$@&%*!!!!” I was convinced her head was going to explode. She continued yelling and calling me every possible swear word under the sun. All I could come up with was, “I feel so sorry for you right now.” I said that about three times as she continued cussing and shrieking, and then, noticing the light turning green and a couple cars forming behind us, I said, “God bless you,” and walked back to my car.
Of course, my daughter was extremely upset with me. She cried, “Mom, you could’ve been run over!” and “You could’ve been shot!” She was right. It was a terrible decision to get out of the car and leave her sitting there to witness that scene. I’m mad at myself and ashamed for setting that kind of example.
We really can’t control when angry feelings appear in our bodies and minds, but we can control what we do with the feelings when they arrive, if we care to and if we have a plan ahead of time. My sudden fury took me wholly by surprise. I’m certain when I left the house that morning, the last thing I expected was a confrontation with another person along the road.
But why didn’t I expect it?
Shouldn’t we all expect some daily discord and friction?
Our world is fallen and full of imperfect people (I’m first in line) and I realize it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plan for and anticipate, even before arising, that situations of conflict, large or small, may be waiting on the other side of warm blankets.
No, we should never go looking for trouble, but we should give trouble a little foresight and preparation.
The Bible guarantees that we’ll all have moments or seasons of struggle, but it’s comforting to know that those times are never a surprise to our Savior. He redeems them all!
In John 16:33 it says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”
When an abrupt and heated circumstance is personally presented to you, are you ready to be a peacemaker? How can we equip ourselves to diffuse, and not inflame, hostility?
I want peace on earth, among all nations and all people, and I know that the unity and love I yearn for has to begin with me: in my heart, home and community. That morning I let indignation get the better of me and I pray in future, similar situations I’ll do much better.
If I could have a do-over, I would not get out of the car. I’d stop, take a deep breath and pray for a fellow human being having an awful time. Then I’d pull over and let her drive right on by.
Romans 12:17-18 says “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Each day, I’d like to be found guilty of this one thing – believing the best in others.
Obviously, it wasn’t this stranger’s finest hour, but it surely wasn’t mine, either. I suspect that in the same way I feel regret for my behavior that day two years ago, she does too.
What can we do to shut down offensive actions and defensive reactions and replace them with empathetic responses? What can we do (or not do) everyday to be a catalyst for peace?
In usual, sane moments, I know these questions are important to wrestle with, and to have an answer and resolution for. How about you?
God please give us wisdom and guide us, and bless us on our journeys, too.
James 3: 17 and 18 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.”