This weekend, a much needed mommy vacation to Target almost turned into a road rage battle! I’m a very careful driver, especially now that I’m a mom. I may push the speed limit a bit on the highway, but I don’t mess around on local roads and I drive especially slow in neighborhoods and parking lots. I don’t have to tell you that Saturday afternoons in the Target parking lot of a suburban town can get pretty hectic. Parents are trying to keep their kids from running into the aisle, hurried shoppers are trying to snag that good spot near the entrance, and pregnant women pushing their toddler in a shopping cart are waddling to their minivans. As I was leaving, I decided to turn left in front of a car that was also heading out. It was a good sized gap and this car had almost come to a stop while waiting for a minivan to turn down another aisle. I wasn’t expecting this nearly stopped sedan to pick up speed so quickly, now behind me and not braking as it pulled all the way up to my back bumper. First, I was in shock. Maybe this driver spotted a good parking spot and was rushing to the next aisle. I obviously didn’t cut him off; there was plenty of room and he didn’t beep his horn. We approached the first 4-way stop and he passed through the intersection at a normal speed, then quickly accelerated, right at my bumper again. He was clearly angry that I foiled his plans to zip out of the busy parking lot. I became frightened since this was the first time someone had so dangerously and deliberately rode my bumper, clearly enraged. At the next 4- way stop before the end of the parking lot, I decided to pull down an aisle to let him pass; I did not want him following me like this on the open road!
When I stopped for a minute to reflect on what had just happened, I quickly became angry myself. How dangerous and careless of this person! What if I had my child in the car with me? What if I had to stop suddenly and he actually ended up colliding with my rear bumper? I was so worked up that I had to call my husband and vent! And wouldn’t you know, my 2-year old answered the phone on speaker, “Ha-wo?” Oh, the anger and anxiety started melting away at that moment and the angry words that I wanted to yell out turned to loving greetings for my little girl. I am so grateful to have my husband and this sweet girl in my life. I explained to my husband what had happened and he listened patiently while helping our toddler build a Lego tower.
After I got off the phone and continued on with my errands, I realized that the anger I saw and felt in that parking lot is so common and being felt all over our nation today. Whether we are angry at the way the election turned out, or toward that friend or relative who keeps sharing the articles bashing the candidate we voted for, or the offensive comments made on Facebook posts praising or criticizing our new President, anger is sadly, very much a part of our lives right now.
So, today I made a promise to myself and I’d like you, friends, to do the same. The next time you get angry, offended, or frustrated and have the urge to lash out with hateful words or actions, please take a breath and think about the consequences; about who is watching us; the little ears that pick up on everything that you say. Actions that are triggered by anger only breed more anger. It is a never-ending cycle that will consume us until we decide to change it by showing our children how to forgive easily and love unconditionally.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NIV)