||[Oct. 29th, 2003|11:06 pm]
It’s October 29th and today, I sunk to a spiritual low-point.|
The day started off badly. I slept in by 30 minutes because I was exhausted (my fault) and it was raining (not my fault). Traffic was crawling. I am supposed to start work at 8:00. I spent over 75 minutes in my car. The parking garage under my building gives people a $3 or $4 daily discount if you arrive before 9:00 AM and have your car out before 6:00 PM. All the way into work the traffic had me stressed because it wasn’t sure I was going to make it in for 9:00 (never mind that I was supposed to be in by 8:00).
As it turned out, my ticket said 9:00 exactly when I arrived at the garage. And then - I couldn’t find a spot. There are 4 level to the garage. The lowest two are reserved for pass holders and you need a pass to gain access to them. Every spot on the upper two levels was taken , "reserved", or handicapped. I drove around and around for 20 minutes, in tears, totally frustrated.
After twenty minutes, I gave up and decided to park under the adjacent building to mine. To my surprise, as soon as I turned the corner was a spot! All I had to do was put the car in reverse and back up enough to turn my car into that spot. Problem - another car was driving on my bumper.
So I pulled over a bit and put on my 4-ways (what I believed to be the common signal for "go around me". The other driver honked at me. I honked back. He honked louder. I learned on my horn with all the adrenaline I had in me. Then he put his car in park and came over and banged on my window. Seething at the nerve of this guy, I rolled my window down. He started yelling at me about how this was a one-way row and I was not allowed to back up.
And then, I just screamed at him, "I am taking THAT spot. I am backing MY car up. YOU move YOUR car around me." I cannot remember yelling that loud at anyone in my adult life. Well, I pulled farther over and he went around me. I got my car into the parking spot and then I put my head on the steering wheel and cried for a couple of minutes.
Last night I was at Tyr’s house-group. I was telling everyone about the amazing leadership conference to which I had recently been. I was encouraging everyone there in their ministry at their church. So, how did I go from wanting to inspire others in their ministries to screaming at a total stranger in less than 12 hours? How did I stoop so low? How did I fail not only such a basic test, but fail it so miserably and completely?
To say that I am embarrassed by my behaviour does not begin to cover it. I got to my cubicle, a hour and a half late, and called Tyr, who despite being an important CS-3 manager, gave up 30 minutes of his time to console me.
What comes home to me is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I’ve read those passages about turning the other cheek and how if someone steals your cloak, you should give him your tunic as well. I’ve read them so often that I know them off by heart. Yet today made it all real on a personal level. It didn’t matter whose fault it was, whether he shouldn’t have been driving so close to me, whether he made the first aggressive move, or whether he yelled first. Our behaviour is not conditional on the behaviour of others. This man’s anger, aggression, or hatred is his spiritual issue that he has the responsibility of dealing with. My spiritual issue and responsibility is how I choose to react to people like him.
Repaying evil with evil isn’t just a bad idea because it is prohibited by God (although that really ought to be a good enough reason on its own), but ultimately it isn’t satisfying on a practical level either. I felt good screaming at him for about the five seconds I was doing it, but I felt miserable the whole day. Whether he felt bad about the way he treated me, sat in his car and cried, laughed about it with people at the water cooler, or wrote it off to a typical day commuting to work is not known. I do know that I suffered the painful discrepancy between who on some level I am and person I desperately want to be.
Repentance is not an easy matter either. Confessing to God and receiving His forgiveness is the easy part. But, I can’t apologize to the car in the other car because I don’t know who he is and probably will never see him again. And so this horrible encounter hangs between us for all time.
Wednesday morning lessons should I ever get any ideas that I have my spiritual walk altogether or ever dare to count myself spiritually superior to anyone else.