It had been a rough day at work and at home for her. And her work was still not over. As she was driving to pick up the kids and make one more stop at the grocery store before she went home to do the house work, it happened. A car pulled out in front of her and she knew that she was going to not only hit the car but probably would be hit by the car behind her. Her initial reaction was not good. There was not a good or virtuous thought anywhere in her mind. Fortunately the accident was averted. With a sigh of relief she proceeded and eventually the car that has pulled out in front of her ended up at the same place she was going. A part of her wanted to really give this person a piece of her mind when the elderly lady approached her.
"I am so sorry for pulling out in front of you. It has been a rough go today and I am not at my best. My daughter in law just called to tell me that my son and grandson were in an auto accident and died. My husband of fifty years died last week. I just do not know what to do. I had to get out today. I am at a loss. I am so sorry. Please forgive me." And she walked away.
She admitted that she now felt about two inches tall. She was speechless. Frozen. Before she could gather herself and respond, the lady disappeared. She searched the store looking for her. Finally she went out to the parking lot and the car was gone. How could a frail little woman disappear so quickly? Had she been frozen or paralyzed longer than she realized?
Finally she gave up and went on her way. But the words and picture of the frail little woman would not leave her mind. It replayed over and over. While the replay was going on in one side of her brain, she was more than aware of her harshness in reacting to the woman pulling out in front of her. That played over and over again as well.
What was God teaching her in this moment?
How much effort does it take to train the mind to think kind thoughts instead of reacting harshly? The truth of the matter is that it takes more effort than we can imagine. It takes the presence of the Holy Spirit in our everyday life. It means wondering about the other person before reacting. It means getting out of our own stuff long enough to see others in a different light.
I think that Jesus was Nazareth was a kind man. He had a gentleness about him that drew people towards him. I think he had a warm smile. I think he laughed more than we can imagine. Jesus was not so much worried about his own burdens. He saw the weight of the world on others.
My challenge to you today is to practice kindness. Give others the benefit of doubt. Smile at strangers. Offer encouraging words.
Pray for me as I pray for you.
In the Master's Name,
Dr. M. Jack O'Dell