Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Cure for Road Rage

From time to time, my dad likes to remind me that I'm impatient.  Unfortunately, he's right, as much as I would like to think that I have grown past this particular imperfection.  The main way this manifests itself in my life is in my car.  Not only do I drive too fast, but I also can have a bit of road rage when other people are preventing me from driving too fast.  Having been convicted (spiritually, not legally) of this lately, I decided to pray in the car when I start to get impatient (why this has taken me 14 years of driving to start doing is another issue entirely).

I thought I was doing a fantastic job on my way to church this morning.  I was behind a car with an older couple inside, driving rather slowly, and shortly before the turn to my parking lot for church, the driver of the car stopped and put on his blinker to turn left into his church parking lot.  The driver was a bit hesitant.  Technically, I had enough room in the bike lane to go around him, but I decided that I would be patient and wait the extra 10-15 seconds.  The car behind me had other ideas.  I saw in my rear view mirror a woman obviously yelling at me and gesturing.  The car turned, I moved along and turned into my parking lot.  So did the car behind me.  Huh.  Awkward.

I think one of the reasons road rage is so hard for me is because I'm anonymous.  Nobody knows who I am, and if somebody gets a glimpse of my face as I speed by, well, it's going to be forgotten in an hour.  I've heard it said that for Christian women in particular, the car is the only place we feel we can express anger.  If I'm frustrated at work, I'm probably not going to tell anyone (except maybe my best friend).  If I get angry at people in my private life, it's very rarely expressed.  While I think some of this is probably good and borne out of a genuine desire to be kind, some of it is decidedly less good and borne out of a desire to have everyone like me.  Either way, saving my anger for the road doesn't get rid of the root problem (my frustration when things don't go my way), it just transfers it to a less "dangerous" situation (assuming, of course, that I remain anonymous and nothing bad happens). 

This morning, my first reaction at being on the receiving end of road rage by someone in my church community was to be indignant.  "Um, excuse me, this is church!  I'm being all patient and godly and this woman is just screaming at me!  How dare she!"  The other word for my attitude is self-righteousness.  I go to a pretty small church, so of course, I knew this girl.  I couldn't really figure out a way to make it not awkward to talk to her, so I just didn't.  I'm an excellent conflict avoider. 

Anyway--as the worship service began, I was irritated and defensive, before remembering how often I have done the same thing to other people.  I just have never been on my way to the same non-anonymous place.  I was redoubled in my conviction and my intent to pray for patience in the car.  Woohoo!

Until about 2:00 this afternoon, when I was on my way home from lunch and got behind a car going 10 under in the left lane and I muttered my irritation at the driver instead of praying.  At which point I remembered just how desperately and continually I need Jesus.

I am confident that He who is doing a good work in me will finish it to completion; I just wish it were an easier process. 

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