My father drives me everyday to take my son to school. We only have one car at home, and my husband goes to work in it at 5am every morning. So my father helps us with that. We usually encounter a few problems on the road, since we live in a very passionate, hectic, and over-stressed society, and my father is sometimes very gracious, other times... not so much. But aren't we all the same way? I know I am.
I used to be the one honking the horn and yelling at other drivers from the passenger's seat! My husband laughed the first time I did this. By the 50th time, he was fearing for his life. He figured, as the man, he was the one that would get insulted, slapped, and punched. But, although I did quieted down a little bit, I didn't stop. Then one day, while my husband was away on a trip, I was driving to my house and a lady tried to cut me off. I honked my horn and, with the window rolled up, yelled at her. I was so angry! But something strange happened: I saw this lady's face transform right before my eyes. Her face looked so distorted with anger while she started yelling back at me, moving her hands, her hair disheveled. I could almost see smoke coming out of her ears! Seriously.
And I felt so contrite, so ashamed. All I could think about was, "I did that. It's my fault that she looks like that. It's my fault that she got so angry." Why didn't I let her pass? I was so close to my house, why didn't I just stopped and let her go through? Why did I have to be so selfish? What would you say about a Christian who causes another person to react that way? What do you think went through that lady's mind when she saw my bumper sticker with my church's name on it?
Guilt. Shame. Sorrow. Sadness. That's what was going on in my mind afterwards. I prayed, and promised, right then and there, that I would never be that person again. I would be patient, and gracious, and not at all selfish on the road. I would think of others, put others first, be polite, and stay calm. And little by little, I started changing. I began treating others with the courtesy with which I wanted to be treated. And I made huge progress, not because I was so good at it, but because God used that incident to call my attention to my problem, and forgave me when I repented and started changing me, and molding me so that I could be better, do better.
Oh, how I wish I could say, "And that's it. Pretty simple!" But that was not it, and it isn't simple. Everyday I wake up and ask God to help me be a blessing to others, and not a burden. To help me be wise in my decisions and with my words. Every morning and throughout the day I have to remind myself that I have to act and react in accordance to God's Word and to His character. I have to exercise self control. And everyday I do the right thing. And also, everyday I fail.
A few weeks back, my father and I had left my son at school and he was taking me to work. And then, a lady didn't wait her turn and blocked us. I wasn't late for work, there wasn't a traffic jam, the light was red, the morning had been calm and peaceful. But still, I snapped. Yes, I yelled at the lady (with my windows closed), and I could practically hear that still, small voice inside me saying, "Hey, be clam. Be still." But I kept saying a thing or two to that lady. I was angry. My father, on the other hand, put the car in reverse, let her pass, and kept on going. Again, I felt so ashamed. Again, I asked for God's forgiveness. And again, God forgave me.
So you see, it's not easy growing in the Lord, but I know I'm not alone. God has promised that "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). God is with me, working in me. He helps me in my quest to be more self controlled, to think about the other person first —who knows what that person is going through at the moment!—, to put other people's needs ahead of my comfort, to not be selfish or self-centered. God helps me in my desire to have my actions and reactions reflect His character more than they reflect mine.