This is from my original email series, Distinct Impressions. I didn’t keep records back then, but this was labeled Volume 1, Number 2. So, it’s an oldey-goldey. Even though I’m doing much better on self-control, there’s still a lot for me to learn from this. Hope you enjoy!
Image Credit: Alessandro Paiva via freeimages.com
Nancy, my wife, often finds important information in our local newspaper. Recipes, community program schedules, and coupons all find their way into her hands and our lives. All good things . . . all for the good of our family.
But occasionally she finds the dreaded prose of a “warning article.” You know what I’m talking about. Those insidious, self-help features that tell you why you’re messed up and what you should do about it.
As we’re driving to church one Sunday morning, I knew she had been recently enlightened by just such an article. “You better watch it,” she said. “You need to control your road rage.”
I checked my mirror. Nope, no wreckage behind me. “What road rage?”
“You shouldn’t be talking to other drivers — that’s a symptom of road rage.”
“But they can’t hear me,” I protested, “and I was just explaining to that lady the significance of a green light.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she insisted. “You’re losing control. There’s no need to talk to anybody about their driving. You just drive, watch out for the other guy, and stay calm.”
“I am calm!!!”
I just knew she was wrong. There was not an ounce of rage in me. So, in a few days, when I misjudged the speed of an oncoming car and the young woman behind the wheel saluted me in a genuinely unwholesome fashion, I decided to have some fun. “Hang on, honey! We’re going after her!”
“What in the world are you doing?!!” Nancy asked. “I’m just going to put a scare into that sweet little thing. I want her to think twice about HER road rage.”
I plunged the accelerator to the floor and within seconds I was right on the bumper of the little red car. Several turns later, the car pulled into the parking lot of a duplex. I wedged my pickup across the driveway and sat, staring menacingly. The woman didn’t move. I sat for several more seconds, then slowly drove away.
What a great feeling! I put that rude driver in her place. She was probably still shaking and wishing she’d never seen me. Probably something like what my wife was thinking about that time.
“Well, that had to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen you do.”
She just didn’t understand. I had dealt justice within a mere city block. I had asserted my right to be treated with dignity on the highway of life.
There’s something about driving, with its rules and regulations, that makes us feel good about keeping others in their place. When someone cuts us off or just engages in a little sign language, we have a right to feel indignant. That’s why we call it righteous indignation.
But that same attitude can invade every part of our lives. Listen closely to people around you. “They can’t treat me that way!” “I’ll show them!” “I know my rights!”
And just like road rage, there’s nothing righteous about it.
Nancy was right. I should not have reacted the way I did while behind the wheel. But, this off-road rage doesn’t get near enough attention. The jostling for position and stature in our every day lives can be just as damaging as the punishment we deal out from behind the wheel. We cut people off. We accelerate — not so much to get where we are going — but to make sure others don’t get where they want to be.
“MY life matters. Yours does not.” That’s the message.
How foreign is that from the example of Christ?
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . .” Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV).
Perhaps the prescription for road rage works off-road as well. Look out for others. Keep quiet. If someone wants into your lane, let him in. Nothing can be so important that it keeps you from your final destination.
As for me, I’m discovering my indignation is rarely righteous. When Jesus fills my life, I have no room for self-righteous rage.