I don’t give people the finger in traffic, but recently, there was an ugly part of me that felt like doing it.
I was in rush hour traffic and trying to get across downtown Washington to get a haircut. It’s difficult to find street parking at that hour, but lo and behold, right when I arrived, a woman got in her car to leave – and then she took her time.
It wouldn’t have been so bad but cars were stuck behind me and it was impossible for them to go around me. That stressed me out, but I just put on my blinker, took deep breaths, and tried to remain calm. Then the lady behind me started honking, over and over again.
Honk-honk-honk. Honk. Honk.
With every honk, I got more annoyed with the woman and more stressed.
“What a miserable person,” I thought.
Honk. Honk-honk-honk. Honk.
I clenched my jaw and finally started to parallel park after the space freed up, but not before a bitter little thought went through my mind: “If I weren’t a Christian, I would holler at this woman through my open window and let her know how rude she is.”
Then something unexpected happened.
After I finally parked, the woman drove up next to me, lowered her window and yelled the last thing I expected to hear: “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize you were waiting for that parking spot.”
I couldn’t believe someone in D.C. traffic actually apologized to me, but I understood why she was honking. She probably thought I was texting or something, and she was doing the same thing I would’ve done.
“It’s OK,” I said with a smile, looking away, feeling pleasantly embarrassed by her humility.
We really don’t know what’s going on in other people’s minds but if we’re proud enough to assume what their motivations are, that’s the one moment we need to question our own judgment.
James 1:19-20 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” It takes humility to do that – to recognize that we don’t have all the information we need to make assessments about other people.
The next time I’m in traffic with someone who appears to be inexcusably rude or my wife is verbally honking at me or I get a curt email from a coworker, I pray that I would seek to understand before making assumptions. In doing so, I’ll be giving other people the very thing I need every day.