Before we moved to New Jersey, one of the pieces of advice I was given was to learn how to give fellow drivers the bird. At the time I thought the advice was kind of funny, but once we got here I understood how true it was. There’s a reason New Jersey has topped the list of worst drivers in the United States in multiple studies and polls. After just a few months of living here I’ve learned that if a car is turning left, you don’t sit behind them and wait, but instead speed past them on the shoulder of the road. Or if the car in front of you is going too slow, you pass them, even if there’s a double yellow line. Trying to get out of a crowded parking lot recently made me feel like I just wanted to put my car in park and sit there until it was entirely empty, but of course, I couldn’t, because I had five cars all diagonally pointed at mine, inching closer and closer and yelling at me to let them in – how could I choose?
But this post isn’t designed to knock Jersey drivers. While they may be the worst in my book, every state has its own crazy drivers. The problem in this post isn’t with them – it’s with me. When I was given the advice to learn to give other drivers the bird, I laughed a little, but knew I would never do that. Now, after a few months of driving in Jersey, I’m proud to say that I haven’t picked up that habit while driving, but disappointed to say I’ve picked up a few others. What I’ve learned is that at the heart of this kind of aggressive driving are two key traits: impatience and self-importance.
Think about it.
“Oh my gosh. Everyone else on the road is going 80 and he’s going 60. That’s not safe. Why do I have to be stuck behind him? It’s going to take me forever to get there now!”
“Don’t these people know that I have somewhere to be?”
I’m not going to lie and say that thoughts like these have never crossed my mind. Which is why, after a particularly stressful weekend of driving in the Garden State, I am writing this post. While it’s easy to feel justified in your impatience, self-importance, and even anger behind the wheel, those attitudes aren’t something that God supports.
I say, “Why is traffic moving so slow? Can’t you speed up some!”
God says, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22)
I say, “You jerk! How dare you cut me off!”
God says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Fret not yourself, it only tends to evil.” (Psalm 37:8)
I say, “Don’t you know I have things to do and places to be?!”
God says, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:14-16)
My personal challenge to you today is to not fall into the pattern of others on the road. But also not to fall into the patterns around you. It’s easy to become impatient and angry or to feel a sense of importance, especially when you see those around you doing it and, oftentimes, getting ahead because of it. But at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.
As Matthew 15:14 says, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”