Driving is an adventure. The aggression and anger of “road rage” is not a foreign concept to both Christians and non-Christians alike. It is very easy to get upset if someone cuts us off, impatiently tries to pass us, drives too slow, or just generally is doing something “foolish” that we’re not a fan of.
We are all too quick to judge the intent and cognitive capabilities of the other drivers, using phrases like “learn how to drive!”, “get off the road!”, or “what idiot parked there?”
Not surprisingly, when we are on the other side of these situations – when others honk, yell and gesture at us for what we do – we feel indignant and wronged since clearly it’s not our fault! There are always external uncontrollable circumstances that lead us to a bad parking job, or an aggressive move on the road, but it rarely dawns on us that other people may experience similar circumstances!
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Prov 18:13
I’ve been guilty of belittling a driver of a car in my mind if I see it parked very obviously over the parking line with no cars around, and have thought to myself “learn how to park!” However, what I don’t see is whether or not other cars were previously over the line, leaving the driver no choice but to park where he/she did. In general, for people to get a drivers licence, they have to know how to park, yet we reduce them to lower-functioning beings in our minds when we simply see only the end result, despite being blind the factors involved.
While facing the unpleasant situation of being stuck behind a slow car in a no-passing zone, it is not uncommon for one to think, “hey gramps! If you’re going to drive that slow you have no business being on the road – just stay at home!” I don’t think we realize how blindly judgmental, selfish, and uncaring these thoughts are. Because a driver is cautious on the road, do they deserve such anger? A car moves slow (often the speed limit actually), and we – in all of our grand importance – are filled with self-righteous anger because WE can’t fulfill our right to speed and get to OUR destination 3 minutes sooner?
Why are we so angry? Why do we get upset to the point of insulting the intent or character of strangers based on some small action? Why do we get upset when others get upset with us?
I have been to “third world” countries where there really are no road rules, and people just figure it out as they go. The average American would most likely not survive mentally, emotionally, or physically! Just riding in vehicles in those situations may have decreased my life expectancy! Yet the people there are used to it and don’t have the same kind of road rage as we do. Why is that?
It might be too simplistic, but I think it may be a matter of the illusion of control. Our lives are SO busy in the West, so cluttered with time-suckers, stress, and drama, that we are out of control. When we get into our little gas-guzzlers, WE are in control for a brief bit of time between point A and point B. If someone threatens the perfect order we create (our perfect order we created that somehow includes us speeding and texting of course) we ‘rightfully’ become furious! I am no psychologist, but I think this illusion of control plays a factor.
If God is not regulating our chaotic lives, they are just that – chaotic. The Creator of the universe gives us some reminders on how we’re supposed to deal with the “lemons” that life hands us:
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. -Proverbs 29:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. -Proverbs 19:11
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. -Eph 4:31
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. -James 1:19-20
And the list goes on. We’re not supposed to get upset so easily. We’ve all seen TV shows and movies depicting the truth behind why a bully is a bully – the fact that there’s more beneath the surface. There is something beneath our anger, and more simplistically, there is some reason for the actions of other drivers.
So the next time you park amiss, let it be a reminder that other folks have reasons for their “crime” as well. The next time someone cuts you off, try not to call them an idiot, but realize that they might be lost, confused, or just didn’t see you. We cannot discern the “thoughts and intents of the heart of man” but God can. This applies to those who cut you off, but also your own heart and reaction to other individuals that God created in His likeness. If you simply must verbalize a response to the unfavorable actions of other drivers, try saying,“I hope your day improves!”