Lately, I have been experiencing something that most New Yorkers know well: road rage. Extreme, “humanity-is-a-needle-in-my-eye-and-why-the-HECK-are-you-jaywalking-when-I’m-clearly-RIGHT-in-front-of-you-do-you-have-a-death-wish-you-crazy-fool” and “Lady-I-don’t-think-I-pushed-you-in-front-of-my-car-you-CHOSE-to-step-in-front-of-me-so-save-your-glare-for-the-mirror” kind of road rage. And don’t get me started on my opinion of bikers and cab drivers. Or people who honk just for the heck of it. But I digress.
Anyway, I was telling a friend about my extreme impatience and general hatred of the world that I feel every time I get behind the wheel. She in turn decided that I don’t in fact hate humanity, but am simply reacting to my environment. Could’ve fooled me, because I see plenty of taxis on the NYC streets and I’m pretty sure I hate them. Then again, I don’t necessarily count taxi drivers as humanity. They are some special demonic spawn sent to torment everybody else. And, if left to their own devices, probably to kill us all. I’m sure of it. But I digress. Again.
Joking aside, I don’t necessarily say all those things (except sometimes) and I don’t hate humanity. Or even cab drivers (except sometimes). But I do definitely notice some impatience. Is it from me? Is it reaction to my environment? I don’t know. But either way it’s not really ok, is it? Of course not.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s common. Acceptable. Expected, even. But not for me. Not if I’m living by the law of love. Sometimes I do wonder if mankind would still have been given salvation if Jesus were surrounded by taxi drivers. But something tells me that God’s grace is bigger than that, yes it would’ve been given to us, and Jesus’ reaction to being cut off and nearly run off the road would be much more polite.
SO, after doing some impatient soul-searching to go with my currently impatient soul, I decided that I was not going to stoop to the world’s standards for acceptable driving attitudes (ie pretty terrible ones). Instead, I am going to reach my attitude up to God’s standards. Stooping is bad for the back anyway. Much healthier to reach up.
So I had this plan in mind. Then I was praying with a friend and she said “Jesus we thank you that you give us joy in the face of the enemy, because when met with joy he doesn’t know what to do.” That clinched it. I was going to meet my road rage with joy. Instead of screaming and grumbling, and saying who-knows-what to the masses of people who seemed to have developed New Yorker amnesia (which basically consists of forgetting what a moving vehicle looks like – I blame the pollution), I was going to meet every near-death experience with a chuckle. A smile. A blessing or prayer for that person even. And then I was going to move on.
I put the plan into action this week. Some days I’ve remembered. Others I’ve haven’t. Sometimes I’ve remembered after the fact and what comes out of my mouth is something like “My-car-is-SOLID-and-no-matter-how-badly-you-want-in-my-lane-no-you-can’t-drive-THROUGH me….be blessed though”. It’s a work in progress. Ultimately it will involve abiding in His love for others, and having my heart be so united with His that my very instincts and reactions are one with His. I’m not even close to being there. I’m closer to the opposite extreme than the Jesus extreme. All I know is, with baby steps, I’m curbing the habit.
If you are trying to curb something, let me know. You can reach me at email@example.com. I’ll pray for you. We’re in this together.
Ha! It is a family joke that I do most of my praying for others while I am driving! “Why??? Are you not going the speed limit???” “Oh Lord, please help this person to get to where they are going safely and cross their path as they have mine, and speak to them of their ultimate destination.” It is a chink in my armor to be sure, but I enjoy the way it gets me to think and pray for others. 🙂
Haha! It’s funny what it takes sometimes to bring people to our attention. I’m SURE Jesus is right there laughing with us. And if that’s what He has to resort to for someone to get on my prayer radar….I guess I will take it. 🙂
I do not live in New York (anymore) but I have too had the same bouts with road rage. It really seemed like one of the last parts of my soul that God didn’t touch when He sent me the Holy Spirit. It was weird, I like got back in the car, and it was on again, (for the most part) like it was never turned off. I can physically see me, putting on this grimace before i got out of the driveway, just to face the traffic appropriately. I remembered though, that I was born with road rage. I remember at a very young age maybe 9 or 10, when my dad (the road rage king) was accelerating to get on an interstate, and there was a car in front of him that slowed down to see if anyone was coming, and it eventually stopped to wait for traffic before merging. My father was at his boiling point by the time we stopped. I am not sure of all the curse words that came out, there were many, but as we fianlly got going and he was able to speed up beside her, he furiously honked the horn to get the other drivers attention, then in all of its surmounted glory (and I can see it in slow motion) he raised his right hand and extended that middle finger to the sweetest old lady you had ever seen. I was aghast, and felt sorry for her, but there was no emotion from my dad. I think it sealed a part that told me “every reaction is acceptable while driving”.
Needless to say, I had adopted that same attitude for most of my adult life while driving. The only thing that had changed after being saved, was that my middle finger did not go up anymore, but I admit the thought of it still come up at times. What helped cure me was a friend of mine who gave me a couple of really cool “Jesus” stickers to put in my window. He said when you get mad at someone look in your rear view mirror to make sure you are safe to react and look at those stickers, and think about who He is and how Jesus would react. You will be able to extend them grace, as well, you will not want to show others what a Christian should not be doing if you go and cut them off. They will see the stickers and you will be giving Jesus a bad name.
So it helped, it has calmed me a bit, I still get frustrated, but not like before. The thought of the finger still comes up, but never gets sanctified, so never gets produced. One last thing that helps, stay in the right hand lane as much as possible and go with the flow while listening to K-Love as loud as you can. Blessings and good luck.
The stickers definitely help! I sometimes have to sit on my hands to ensure that bird isn’t flipped! hehe
Good story! It is really interesting to see how many little places our anger shows through. And who’s watching it. And it makes what Jesus did even more amazing. Road rage is people doing their own thing who just happen to get in our way. And us ‘showing love’ to them is often just us censoring ourselves. Jesus had people actively targeting Him. And He loved them. Not in a “you drive me crazy but I’ll show love because I have to” kind of way, but a genuine, unconditional, from-the-heart love. I strive for it, but the second I get in the car it becomes a foreign concept. Good idea about the stickers! What a good reminder! 🙂
15 years ago, I gave someone the finger when driving. With sinking heart, I realized it was a friend from my childhood. That cured that in an instant. I used to literally scream when driving, pounding the steering wheel when someone did something dumb. Through the years I have gradually changed in this area, so that someone cutting me off & honking, now causes me to smile. I have resolved that I am going to enjoy my life. That includes sitting in traffic & driving with crazy people. So when they are seething in anger, I will smile, put the incident out of my mind, and sing my praise songs. I would much rather arrive joyfully to my destination than angrily recalling what they did in step-by-step detail. Don’t give up, it takes time & you will fail (I know I do). But little by little…progress 🙂
Oh good! There’s hope for me! Haha it’s definitely been a slow process so far, but Jesus has been faithful and giving me grace to pause before reacting. I’m hoping for the day when it’s not even my instinct to be anger anymore. We’ll see! But either way, I’ll take any little victory I can get. 🙂
I can SO relate to this!! I made a choice many years ago never to drive to work if I can avoid it. Ever since then, I have take public transport and I get to work calmer and in a better mood. And the added bonus – I have 45 min of uninterrupted time to read my bible or just pray 🙂
That’s awesome. Before I moved here, I dedicated my morning commute to prayer and just spending time with Jesus. I haven’t done that as much since now when I drive it’s my roommate’s van. Unless he’s actively praying with me, I keep it in my head. Sadly, my head is also filled with the music we have playing in the mornings, and thoughts of turning errant pedestrians into human bowling pins. But I am working on it. 🙂
LOL I had to laugh – if I never knew better I’d swear I wrote this post! South African roads are saturated with arrogant drivers. I feel your pain! And prayer for this has been ongoing in my life. A very difficult thing to overcome! Out of frustration one day I said, “Lord, You never had this! You had donkeys and so much more space! HELP MEEEEE!” LOL
Hahaha that’s about where I am. I am happy that Jesus didn’t come in modern-day times. And that He’s not me. Because if it were up to me, one look at rush hour (in really ANY city) and I’d have the same reaction that God had to Sodom. I might give up entirely and start over on another planet. Something tells me that’s not exactly what Jesus would do though. 🙂
Hi Rebekah. We, in Orlando, FL, have terrible drivers, too many tolls and tourists that are always hazards when they walk around our streets. I enjoyed your piece. May God bless you and help you in your hope to end the habit.