Burning Anger

This morning started with a flurry of motion. I jumped into my workout gear, dragged the kids out of bed and started corralling my little flock with determination. I have a long list of to dos to accomplish today, and nothing is going to stop me!

My daughter, moving at a snails pace, started getting ready for school still half dead from her slumber. My son on the other hand is most definitely, 100% NOT a morning person. He absolutely detests being woken up and God help the person who awakens the monster from his momentary comatose state. (I’ll be praying for his future wife.) This morning I was the recipient of many growls, grunts and angry stomps as my pint sized beast rampaged through the house. He could care less that mom had a full day of tasks that needed tackling.

After much lamenting, half hugs and well wishes for my daughter’s school day, I managed to restrain the tiny dictator in his car seat and set off for daycare. Each stoplight was punctuated with a grunt or growl and he harrumphed all the way to his classroom. I kissed his sweet little grumpy head, the classroom door opened and my little monster vanished! Instead there stood a charming little boy, grinning from ear to ear, excitedly launching himself into a classroom full of open arms.

“Good mornings” and “how are yous?” were exchanged and I was off to the races! Singing along with the radio, I pulled out into the street and headed back home. I still had 30 minutes to spare before I needed to be on a pretty important virtual call.

As I am meandering down to road, singing praise and determined to enjoy my day, I notice the car in front of me is slowing down. I begin to slow down until I realize the car in front is slowing significantly and we are now moving at a pace slower than the speed limit. I look to my right and find an absence of cars in the right lane and move over, once again intent on moving about my day.

Still bopping to my praise music, I notice that as I accelerate, so does the black escalade next to me. I keep my eyes on the prize and keep moving forward. With a red light up ahead, I prepare to come to a stop but notice the very large escalade is heading into my lane, and I now fully understand that this stranger is so enraged that she wants to force my car off the road.

I immediately started speaking to God. I began praying for wisdom, patience and compassion.

He told me to shut up. Be quiet and be alert. Pay attention.

As we neared the red light, roughly two car lengths from the car in front of us, the wrathful woman punched her gas and zoomed in front of my car to cut me off. The peace of God calmly moved my car into the left lane, gently slowing to a stop behind the car now sitting in front of me. Next to me sat an open window with and angry, red faced, screaming woman telling me exactly what she thought of me at that moment, a complete stranger who happened to be driving behind her at apparently the wrong time.

Instead of reacting, I took God’s advice. I shut up. I didn’t glare. I just let her scream.

During her fit of rage another car had pulled up behind me, and since the woman’s lane was about to end, she realized she could no longer single me out. Instead she put another person’s safety at risk zooming ahead of the car in front on me, only to slow down and interrupt the entire flow of traffic, which I could see in my rearview mirror had gone from one car trailing me to at least ten.

For what? All to upset a stranger. All to ruin my day likely because her day had already gone sideways. Maybe it’s deeper than that, maybe she’s had a bad few days, week, years…. I don’t know her story. What I do know is that hurt people hurt other people.

I know because I’ve been there. We all have if we’re honest with ourselves. It’s so much easier to lash out than to feel sadness and hurt. So we punish the people we come in contact with because its so much harder to experience and walk through our own pain.

So I prayed for her. I thanked God for giving me the wisdom to be quiet and I prayed that He speak to her, that she finds compassion in her heart for others and that she is a recipient of that same compassion. I prayed that her wrath end with me, so she can go on to love others and overcome whatever hurt she’s feeling today. I don’t know who she is, her story, or if she knows God herself, but I am confident that she was wounded before spitting fire in my direction.

Hurt is awful. I am no stranger to difficult, ruthless, agonizing pain. It seems like it’s easier to strap the pain on your back rather than experience it. We choose to carry it and when it becomes too heavy, and it always does, we launch it at others to get rid of it. All that does is cause others to add a few more bricks to your pain filled knapsack.

What would happen if you decided to set it down? If you decided to sort through the pain and stop carrying it around? What would happen if whenever you threw your hurt at someone else, instead of adding a brick, they took the stone you threw and placed it on the ground?

Yesterday, my daughter and I talked about the popular accessory of young Christians in my day, the coveted WWJD bracelet? We talked about not emulating others, rather look to God and act as Jesus would have.

I don’t know what Jesus would have done in my situation. He probably would have said something incredibly wise and the woman would have driven off forever changed. I do know he would not have increased her pain, rather he would have helped her unpack it. If a dying man on a cross can forgive us for killing him, we can show compassion to those who inflict pain upon us. We can do that because He died for us and we must do that for the same reason.

Jesus died for us because we couldn’t, and still can’t, get out of our own way. We’re so consumed with what’s going on right now, we forget to look toward what we’ve been promised. He rose again as proof of who He is and that his promises are true. We received a gift of redemption, knowing we can never be good enough to deserve it, and with that is a gift of forgiveness. That forgiveness is not only for ourselves, but to show the mercy and grace of God to others.

Jesus himself said, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. John 20:23

I went on to miss my important meeting, all because I sat like dummy in front of the test camera and forgot to hit join. At this point, my day hasn’t exactly gone as planned, but I am so thankful I have to Holy Spirit walking with me and directing my steps. This world and my troubles are temporary. What can be greater than the promise God has given to us that this world will pass away and we will rejoice alongside the King of Kings.

Go in love and kindness friends. Be the one God uses to reflect his love on another living in a cold, wrathful darkness. All it takes is a small flame to light up a room and burn anger to the ground.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12: 9-10

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