So, yesterday morning, I came kind of close (but not terribly close, don't worry) to changing lanes right into a car beside me that I didn't see. Apparently the driver gave me a dirty look that I missed (thankfully -- it's not taking much these days to knock me into an emotional pit), but my daughter must have seen it because she immediately asked, "Why do drivers always give people dirty looks when they make a mistake like that? I mean, it's not like they've never made that kind of mistake before. Even YOU act like that, Mom."
Yeah, guilty as charged.
So, why do we? I told my daughter that a lot of it probably has to do with the suddenness of the situation. We speak on impulse, out of the momentary fear that we feel when we see the impending danger. We don't consider that this driver may have a reason for their inattention that we can sympathize with -- they're feeling ill, or they're having a serious fight with their spouse, or they're sleep-deprived. In any other situation, we might feel led to pray for them, but when their problems get in our way, we cuss them out. We assume the worst of them. They're not hurting -- they're an idiot.
I have a vague memory of riding in a car with someone who didn't react that way. I don't remember who it was, but when someone cut her off, her reaction was one of concern for what that driver must be dealing with to make them so distracted. Her first reaction. It really was astounding to witness. It showed a genuine compassion and concern for people despite how they might hurt her -- a real "turning the other cheek" attitude.
I'm coming to believe that I can't use the excuse of "I spoke without thinking" to justify unkind words or attitudes. It seems to me that the words I speak without thinking are probably most representative of the true state of my heart. The sad truth is, I see drivers who endanger my life as irresponsible, stupid people deserving my condemnation rather than hurting, struggling people deserving my concern.
And clearly, I'm not viewing these people as Jesus would.