Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just one more second

We've all been there.  Many times, I'm sure.  You're driving calmly down the street and all of a sudden some JERK cuts you off!  And guess what...he didn't even use a turn signal to do it!  Those in West Chester can probably relate to this:  Driving down Pottstown Pike coming back into WC off of 100.  You're at the light at Boot road. We ALL know that the right lane ends after the intersection.  So, into the left lane we sit.  Green light.  Drive through the intersection.  You look in your rear view mirror and here comes this car flying up behind you, through the intersection and cuts in front of you just as his lane ends!  How about the highway.  You're driving just as peaceful as you can.  You're in the left lane smoothly passing the cars in the "slow lane".  All of a sudden, the car in front of you needlessly swerves a bit.  Or they slow down to just under the speed limit.  Maybe leave a turn signal on.  You jump into the right lane and as you illegally pass them, you note that the driver is on the phone. You probably say something like"hang up the phone and drive!" in your head as you give them a dirty look.  Anyway, you get the point.  Road rage.  I'm sure most of us have been there.  I know I have.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article about road rage.  Do you know how much time it adds to your commute when someone merges in front of you?  Or has the audacity to cut you off?  On average, it adds one second per car.  Just one more second.  Yet, that one extra seconds can so easily ruin a commute.  The urge to flick the high beams races through our minds.  All of a sudden the nice, relaxing Sounds of the Ocean CD is taken out and replaced with some loud Nickelback.  Our blood pressure rises to near boiling.  Anger of biblical proportions flows through our veins.  All of this for one lousy second.

So many times lately I am reminded of the times I've done these things.  I travel to a lot of different areas for work.  Many of which I've never been to before.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten into a lane that I had no idea was going to end after an intersection.  Or how many times I've had to jet across 4 lanes of traffic to make my exit that I didn't realize was coming up.  So many times of complaining about someone driving and talking on the phone I'm reminded of the fact that I do it all of the time.  A few weeks ago my car was rear ended just past an intersection.  The first thing that I noticed was that the driver was on her cell phone.  My first thought was that had she been driving, not talking, maybe she wouldn't have hit me.  True?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I know that as I looked at myself in the mirror I had also spent that hour drive to that point catching up with my old friend.  've been in a rush to get somewhere as I weaved a bit more than usual.  I've had the music on, windows and sunroof open and not realized that my turn signal was still on.  I've forgotten to turn my high beams off at night.  I know that I've cut people off before.  Not necessarily intentionally, but I've done it.  Without doubt, I have been "that guy" so many times.  Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?...Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye..." (Matthew 7:3-5).

So, my new challenge to myself is that when I find myself frustrated at another driver, to just remind myself that it's just one more second.  When that car is trying to merge onto the highway, if I let him in, it's just one more second.  I'm not perfect at it; far from it, actually.  But I'm trying.  I'm making an effort. This article went on to explain why we feel angry.  It's kind of an interesting reason.  We don't see the body language of the other driver.  We get cut off while walking all the time.  Yet a person's body language often shows apologetic signs.  Maybe a little shuffle of the feet.  Maybe quick head nod.  Maybe even a verbal sign of "excuse me".  These signs very often exist in cars as well.  We just can't see them through the cars.

I will leave you to reflect on this passage from James:
Of the tongue "...With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so." (James 3:9-10)

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