In June 2019, I had what I now know was a permanent paradigm shift. My oldest son got his learner’s permit. Stay with me here. I was shown firsthand the truth in the saying “life has a funny way of putting directly in front of us those things we so desperately wish to leave behind.” Remarkably, I wasn’t really afraid for his life, or even mine. I was worried about his heart. And it was all my fault. You see, it actually had nothing to do with the kid. Or the vehicle. But I did it to him- unknowingly; way before he was born- and even leading up to the time he was old enough and ready to learn to drive. How’s that? I’m glad you asked.
I am a former retro road rage-aholic. Simply put, I’m saying for as long as I can remember, although not the aggressor, I would make it my business to let you know how ridiculous you were if you were what I deemed to be an unsafe, rude, inconsiderate, slow, speedy, or just distracted driver. Not one to use foul language, I always had plenty of fists to shake, eyes to roll, horns to angrily honk to protest your perceived transgressions. I also made sure, (behind the comfort of my rolled up van window, of course) that everyone in my vehicle knew what a terrible driver you were- with a running commentary of the slight. And against all counsel to the contrary- from within me (sorry again, Lord) and within my vehicle (thanks for trying, honey) I made a big deal out of what was really nothing in the grander scheme of things.
So fast forward to the summer of 2019. After just a few days, I realized my mistake. I saw that I’d miscalculated some very old, but powerful lessons, and they are as follows:
First, you can be so right, you’re wrong. It is entirely possible to have all the facts and information on your side- (driving rules and experience) and yet still be so wrong in your approach and presentation (yelling, knit picking, fussing) that the entire lesson is lost and the point rendered moot in light of your shameful behavior. Don’t be that person. Be humble in victory, but always be gracious, especially in the face of another’s defeat. One day the roles will be reversed, and you will be glad you weren’t that person. Trust me on this one.
Next, don’t judge. Period. You don’t know- you absolutely cannot know- all that may be going on inside of another person’s vehicle, their heart, mind or even their life. Just stop it. Walk in the light that you have. And when things do go sideways, (they cut in front of you, make a dangerous turn, stop suddenly) be willing to grant the most gracious explanation possible. Perhaps they were speeding past you to get to the hospital; maybe they didn’t know their turn was so soon, perhaps it is a rental car they’re trying to get used to- maybe they’re a new driver? Give some extra grace. All the while realizing that it takes a true hypocrite to expect the same behavior from someone else that they are not willing to display themselves when put in similar situations. We really don’t know all it took for that person to just show up one more day and keep going. Don’t be the person who makes someone regret even trying one last time. Just. Don’t. Judge. Anyone. Ever. We’re Not qualified. Period. Trying to take the moral high ground while judging others is like trying to search for a tootsie roll in a septic tank. Enough said.
Finally, you should only expect to reap as much mercy as you are willing to sow. If you plant seeds of anger, bitterness or just strife, don’t be surprised when those very things sprout up in your life. Or worse yet, as I found out when my son was driving- when those you love and are most tender toward- receive a bumper crop of the nasty seeds you’ve sown. It’s a terrible thing to witness your child receiving the harsh judgment and penetrating glares you once gave to others as he is trying to learn how to navigate the road. Whether it’s the road of life, or the interstate, there’s nothing worse than seeing the hurt and confusion or just panic and frustration when a minor mistake draws a stranger’s ire, or blaring horn in protest. Especially knowing that I had once been that angry person, and then hurt as I witnessed my sweet boy on the receiving end of the same. Ouch, and yet, amen.
And this, dear friends, is where I leave you. To hopefully learn from my mistake, ponder the path you’re on, and invite you to consider if you too, have changes that could be made in your journey. After all, only you know what you may have sown that will eventually come back to find you. Because, rest assured, unless we change direction, it’s coming. Which is why for both me and you, I am praying for some major crop failure, and a lot of mercy from here on out. To be both given and received. We will all be so much better for it. Of this one thing, I am certain.