On my way to work, there are a few 4-way stops. This particular one was a 2-way stop. I had to stop, this guy didn’t. As I coasted to the sign, he felt the need to lay on his horn to tell me he had the right of way…for an awkwardly long time. I was already sitting there, completely stopped, getting honked at by this child with a driver’s license. Obviously, this was an injustice. I felt my character was impugned by Honky Honkerson, and I wasn’t going to let it go unchecked. So I laid on my horn as he passed by. At this point, he comes to a complete stop, opens his car door, and tells me to get out of the car. He wanted to fight. Judging by the look of him, he was no older than 20 years of age, more like 17 with tattoos.
I really wanted to get out of my Jeep.
He was tiny. I mean, 5’5”, 130 pounds tiny and, I felt, he needed an older man in his life to show him that rudeness can get you a black eye in this world. As I watched him yell at me, my mind imagined how it would go down, my points of attack, what I would do if he had a weapon….
All of this flashed through my mind in the span of 5 seconds. Up to that point in my day, life had been great – I had my breakfast, my coffee, we were on time, and I was listening to Paul Tripp on marriage (yeah, that’s right)…and then my emotional range shot off the charts. I went from sipping coffee and listening to the Gospel…to wanting to physically injure this man. I was unexpectedly dealing with an irrational, rage-filled man who wanted nothing more than to get his way, no matter the cost. And that man was me.
It’s moments like these that show you who you really are. Unfortunately, my wife was in the Jeep with me, so she got to see who I really am as well. Which is fun. Apparently, I have an anger problem, which stems from some flimsy insecurity and demand for respect from everyone, even complete strangers. Somewhere along the line I probably made a promise to myself that NO one is going to walk all over me, and my sinful nature has not let that demand slip.
I didn’t get out of my Jeep. And it wasn’t out of holiness, either. My mind thought of the headline, “McKinney Man Shot to Death over Stop Sign.” Well, that would be the most degrading way to die. At least go out over something worth it, something heroic, I thought to myself. You see, even my sinful nature thought I was being stupid, even though it’s rationale was absolutely self-serving. I yelled something derogatory, fled the scene, and every foot I put between me and that kid made me think more and more about my brokenness.
It doesn’t take much, does it? Rudeness, disrespect, carelessness, or even just a minor slight… all can immediately plunge us into a slideshow of the depths of our own depravity. What do you do when you see yourself for who you really are? Do you push it back down, hoping it doesn’t come back up? Do you ignore it? Do you get angry when it’s pointed out to you?
As I continued my way to work, I slowly articulated my sorrow and apologies to the Lord, then to my wife. It took a while, but we got there. My prayer is that the distance between my sins and my sorrow becomes shorter and shorter.
A few days later, my wife read this before I posted it, and told me she was worried that I was going to get out the Jeep, especially when the kid yelled, “Come on, old man!” This revelation made me angry all over again. I hadn’t heard him yell that. So I had to repent all over again and submit this anger to the Lord all over again. And get some hearing aides. Apparently, this old man is loosing his hearing.