My ministry requires me to do a lot of driving around New England – and in some places that means dealing with heavy traffic. Recently I was driving through intense traffic and was stuck behind two semis driving next to each other on a two-lane road. I noticed in my rear view mirror a SUV quickly darting back and forth between lanes.
Over a period of several minutes the driver finally made his way up to where I was and found himself stuck behind two semis with no way to keep moving forward. We rode alongside each other for several miles. Every so often I would glance over his direction, and I noticed he was growing increasingly agitated. He was making obscene gestures at the semis in front of us, though the semi drivers could not possibly have seen him. He began honking his horn and getting closer and closer to the back of the truck in front of him.
Though I’ve gotten used to driving in heavy traffic and seeing irate drivers, I was somewhat surprised by this fellow. There was literally no way he was getting around the semis, and there was really no way those semis could move out of his way. It was just one of those heavy traffic days where all you can do is keep pace until the traffic finally clears out.
But this guy had forgotten that unwritten rule of driving around New England. He was so agitated, I worried he would have a heart attack. Finally we reached a slight incline where there was a “truck lane.” Instead of letting one of the trucks move over, he darted into the truck lane and sped around them.
I assumed he was on his way, and I wouldn’t see him again – but about ten miles later there he was beside me again, stuck behind more trucks in even heavier traffic. You can imagine how upset he was. My thought was: I sure wouldn’t want to be at his house when he gets home and takes all of that frustration out on his family!
This driver was making poor choices on the road and trying to force his way through a traffic jam in which there really was no way through. That situation was causing him frustration that, in his mind, was everyone else’s fault – but in reality was due to his own attitude.
I think we are all like that sometimes – perhaps not in our driving, but in how we live our lives. We try to force our way through challenging situations, making one poor choice after another. When we hit natural road blocks, instead of slowing down, making thoughtful, calm decisions and letting the situation work out, we keep pushing and trying to force resolutions that simply do not exist.
Learning to slow down and let the Lord lead us through challenging times is an important spiritual discipline. Anger and trying to force our way through other people’s lives surely will not get us where we need to be. We must remember James 1:19-20:
My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
As we remember to remain calm and let situations play themselves out, we will avoid much stress and anxiety, even when we feel stuck in the traffic of life. So take it easy and learn to go with the flow of the traffic.
Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England.