Thursday, March 14, 2013

'I suck' Moments

As I was driving through Cambridge tonight, a car slowed down in front of me abruptly. Really? 

It's kind of my response to a lot these days, especially while I'm driving, or people watching, or dealing with long waits.

Did you really have to pull out right in front of me and go the speed limit?
Did you really have to stop for the full three seconds when there was no one else at the intersection?
Did you really think it was a good idea to wear that?
Did you really think writing a check was the most considerate thing to do in the 'express lane'?

C'mon people...

And as I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of me, all the while muttering under my breath...I noticed the old woman crossing the street laden with grocery bags. The driver in front of me had seen, while driving, this woman waiting patiently with a heavy load to cross the busy street. He had seen her and he had taken the time to stop.


Do you ever have these, 'I suck.' moments?
Because, that was certainly one of them for me. Even if I had noticed the lady, I probably wouldn't have even thought about stopping because I was in such a hurry, and so focused on following my GPS as not to get lost in an unfamiliar city.

The other day I was running late to class and the slowest person pulled out in front of me. By slowest, I mean that they were going the speed limit and so I felt rather unjustified in my frustration. Nevertheless, I tailed them closely...hoping that they'd get the hint that no one goes the speed limit around here. I suddenly realized that I could be following a fellow student, or, worse yet, a professor and as I imagined the shame of pulling up next to them in the parking lot I began to let my foot off the gas pedal, putting some distance between our two vehicles. Eventually they veered off a different direction, but it was another 'I suck.' moment for me.

Even worse, not long ago I was looking at the back of a woman's head, wondering why she would ever wear her hair like that. Was it a braid or a pony tail that she was trying to accomplish? A few minutes later I realized she was blind.

I suck.

I've been put in a place, over and over again, where I'm reminded that things aren't always what they seem. I'm ever-aware of my impatience, my harsh judgments and critiques, my thoughtlessness....and, most disgusting of all, my selfishness mixed with my pride. It's ugly.

They're little things, on some level... but, they're also significant. It's a commentary on how I view the world and people around me. It's a reminder that my flesh is so very quick to react and how, despite how I might be viewed by others, there's still a lot of work to be done inside of me.

I sometimes think we're unaware of our own darkness until it's suddenly brought into the light. We're unaware that the thoughts we think about others are harsh and ugly until we realize that maybe they can't help what they look like, or the noises they make, or the wounds that they bear...whether physical or emotional. How often do we not think twice about our immediate assessments and judgments of others because we have no reason to?

How often do we justify our anger and frustration when people are abiding by the traffic laws? How often do we justify our impatience when people take longer to do something than we think they should? How often do we justify our pride when people seem to be doing something in an illogical, nonsensical way?

I guess I've been reminded lately that I don't always know the whole story. I don't know why the lady at the grocery store needed to write a check, but I do know that she was willing to engage in a conversation with the girl who had Down's Syndrome who was bagging groceries when I was not.

It's a reminder that life isn't about me. There are other people, with other agendas, with other problems and heartaches and reasons for doing why they do what they do in the way that they do it. I might not always think it to be the best, and it might sometimes inconvenience me... but does it matter? Don't they matter abundantly more than my time, my agendas, my pride...myself...?

I know that I'll inevitably have more 'I suck' moments. It's part of being human.
But, I'd like to have less of them. Less, because I'm seeing people, taking time for them, and serving/honoring them... even if it's in the way I think about them or talk about them, recognizing that I don't know their story or the method to their madness.

This is one of those times when light penetrates the darkness, and while it sucks to see what lies there... it's necessary if you ever want to get rid of it. And then, in having them, immediately replacing the guilt and shame with moving towards better.

When I saw that the car was letting the old lady crossing the street, my own shame was replaced immediately by inspiration. It was a 'pay it forward' moment, almost. I wanted to be aware of the people around me enough to stop, to make time for them, to serve them. It was a small gesture, it was a small sacrifice... but it was really beautiful to me.

And here's where my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, because without Him I'd be left in a constant state of 'I suck' moments.

To Him be the glory.
Have I mentioned how thankful I am for second chances...?

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