Sunday, February 08, 2015



I struggle with entitlement in many areas of my life.  Let me just come right out and say this often includes driving.  I feel like I have a right to get where I am going in a certain amount of time and how dare all of those other drivers get in my way.  Don't they know that children are screaming in my car and I am probably running late because of the unforeseen opportunity to change an exploded diaper?  Or because I didn't get up in enough time out of laziness?  Both reasons should be totally valid.

Let's transfer this entitlement attitude to the drop-off line at Lily's school.  Most mornings we arrive between 7:45-7:50, and the line is not long at all and moving very quickly.  It is always single file at this time.  However, if we arrive after 7:50, it is a bit more clogged, because school starts at 8, so the pressure is on.  There is room for two lines of traffic, but most people still end up using just the one lane, forming one longish line.

However, I realized a few weeks ago that some people try to use the second lane in the mornings, which actually just cuts everyone else.  At first I thought they were heading around the line to park and walk inside, which is obviously totally valid.  After carefully watching (because I can be a psycho about stuff like this), it dawned on me that no, those people were just taking advantage the extra space to cut off everyone else as they merge.  It made me irrationally angry, and I vowed to myself to never let anyone drive around me again.  A completely rational response.

Friday morning, we got there around 7:52, and the line was backing up a bit.  I decided to camp out right in the middle and not allow anyone to pass.  Apparently I was feeling entitled and high justice, because even when someone started honking at me, I stayed put and continued driving right down the middle.  Quite frankly, the honk didn't even bother me, because I felt so completely justified in what I was doing.

Fast forward about 2.5 minutes, because in reality, the whole thing does not take long at all.  Lily is hopping out of the car, and I am beginning to pull forward when I realize that there is a woman standing right outside of my window waving at me.  I swallow my shock and roll it down.  She goes on to inform me that she was honking at me to get out of the way.  I told her that I didn't want her to go around me.  She said there are two lanes and I should understand that I was breaking the system and would cause other people to be late.  I told her that I understand how it is supposed to work.  She walked away.

Neither of us was rude - though it could be argued that both of us had been rude in our actions leading us to that moment.  My heart was pounding in my brain as I drove away from the school.  I was so taken aback and a bit flabbergasted.

Several things hit me as I pondered this encounter throughout the day.  First off - I probably need to just stay in the right lane and allow myself to occasionally be passed.  In the grand scheme of the morning, it really only costs seconds - maybe a minute or two.  While those time increments can feel gigantic to me, they are not, and I can put other people before myself, even when it feels like they are disregarding everyone else.

That issue comes down to me dying to self a little more each day, each moment.  I quite liked sitting in the middle of the drive, controlling the line in my own little (or rather imposing) way.  But, that is not the job God has given me in life.  Every other driver on the road represents a soul - a real, live person who will live forever in eternity.  I can acquiesce my rights to others - even if they have no idea what I am doing.  I know, and God knows, and that is what matters.  Easier said than done.  Only ever done by God's grace.

The second issue that I grasped within moments of driving away is the fact that that woman and I were NEVER going to see eye to eye.  Even if we had an hour to sit down over coffee and thrash this out, we were not going to agree on how the car drop off line should work.  We come at it from fundamentally different places, and though our exchange lasted less than 30 seconds, no amount of time would have brought us to agreement.

How much of life is like this?  Far too much.  How guilty am I?  Far too guilty.  I want to explain without having to listen.  I hate being misunderstood, but I am willing to make snap judgments without all of the facts.  All of this comes so naturally, and without the Holy Spirit, I am powerless to change my responses.

Every day, there are new opportunities where the rubber of my faith has to actually meet the road of my day to day life.  Somedays, I can keep on driving and live with more of God's grace.  Other days are like giant train wrecks of self and sin and wanting to do it all my own way.  I don't have a pretty little bow to put on this, because it feels messy, and I fail at it so often.


Carmen Smith said...

Carol, I love this! I am guilty of "driving while under the influence of entitlement" ALL. THE. TIME. And, I have to admit that my hot-headedness would've led to a far different encounter had that same woman confronted me (not something for me to be proud of, it's just the truth). Not so long ago, a car would not let me on the interstate during my morning commute. The driver cause me to have to slam on my breaks and all the cars behind me, for no reason. Apparently, he didn't understand that you have to let traffic merge, you know, like a zipper! I threw up my hands in my car and was screaming some cuss words. After I was allowed to merge, I got over to the middle lane and eased up next to the car who wouldn't let me over. I saw two teenage boys and showed them my "I am so mad at you" face. The driver shrugged at me and then held up both hands (off the wheel!) in a heart shape. A heart! He didn't flip me off or mouth f-u... he held a heart! I immediately smiled and waived my hand in the "ok-ok, you got me" gesture. I drove on to work and had a good day. From that day on, I vowed not to act so irate when others are not as courteous or abide by the standards I hold myself to while on the road. And, I have had the opportunity to hold up the heart sign instead of flipping someone off! I like your thoughts on thinking of the other drivers in the terms of eternity. Thanks for this. Love u!