I composed a letter in my head when I was driving to work early yesterday morning. It went like this:
Dear Person Who Tailgates When The Roads Are Icy:
I am writing to let you know it doesn’t matter how close you get to me, you cannot make me drive faster than I feel safe doing. I checked the weather and the road conditions at home this morning and left early so I could adjust my driving. I can see you are in a hurry and are not happy I seem to be driving overly- cautiously. I am glad you feel so brave despite the conditions outside. You are hereby invited to exercise your bravado and pass me at any time.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
A few weeks ago while driving on the expressway, a car came up from behind, weaving in and out of traffic and passed on the left. When the driver got close to the cars in the left lane, he tried to weave to the right lane, which was moving slightly faster than 20 miles per hour. He lost control and plunged into a snowbank. Last winter, someone pulling out of a driveway tried to accelerate hard to get in front of me and ended up in the ditch across the street. In the end, rushing caused the accidents that likely made both of those drivers even later for wherever they were headed. Their carelessness also put other drivers at risk.
We are an impatient society. Nobody seems to want to get older, but we want everything to happen so fast. We often don’t think we should have to wait, or slow down or give consideration to the lives around us. I was in the Meijer parking lot one evening and a quite elderly woman came out of the store, leaning heavily on her cane and began to cross the parking lot followed by another elderly, but somewhat younger, woman a few feet behind. There was a teenage girl driving through the parking lot and she was speeding and had to stop quickly to avoid hitting the women. Her window was down and she accelerated just as quickly and drove around them, yelling out her window, “*%#$#%# old people! I hate $#*%&$* old people!”
I thought my heart might break.
How did we get to this place as a society? There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING more important in this life than our relationship with God and with other people. People matter. They matter whether they are family, or best friends, or complete strangers. They matter if they are lovely and young and facing a bright future, and they matter if they are old and worn out and feeling like life is over. They matter if they are angry, rude teenagers, and they matter if they are slow, shuffling and elderly. They matter if they are rich, and they matter if they are poor. They matter if they are dirty, and they matter if they are clean. They matter whether their political beliefs match mine or not. They matter whether I approve of their lifestyle or not. They matter in spite of their bad decisions or lousy attitudes or crazy hair.
What doesn’t matter is if I am in a hurry, or in a bad mood, or am in the middle of a really difficult situation. It doesn't matter if I don't feel like being patient with my fellow human beings, or if my situation is worse than theirs. Life is not a contest or a game of selection.
People are important. Their value is infinite and they are worthy of my love, kindness, and respect. In Philippians 2 I am told to value others better than myself. 1 Corinthians 13 is not just a nice idea, it is valuable instruction for humanity about the importance of love. I pray all the time that God will soften my heart and humble my spirit so I can reflect His love into the lives of everyone, yes EVERYONE, who crosses my path. It is not easy, but it is required.