I spend way too much time reading all those stories in the news about people being overcome by road rage and doing the totally unthinkable. There was a guy in SF back when I lived there who got so mad at airport traffic that he pulled up alongside a woman, grabbed her dog from the front seat, and then hurled it to its death by throwing it into oncoming traffic. The entire Bay Area was collectively appalled. The guy was eventually caught and, while he wasn’t put up under the jail as some folks wanted, he did serve time for being a slave to his anger. Or what about the guy who got mad when another car passed him… and shot through the window killing the mother of two inside? I don’t think they ever caught that guy. And the most recent one? It happened a few weeks ago. A woman flipped a guy off for cutting her off and he shot her in the head. Just like that. Shot her in the head while she was driving. It could have caused a chain reaction of fatalities that day.
I always angrily wonder who does this kind of stuff? Who carries guns in their cars and why are they angry enough to shoot someone for some petty traffic offense. I tend to feel morally superior as I pose these questions. Our world is so much more angry now and it’s not just on the road. It wasn’t like this growing up. I wasn’t afraid to drive. Now? I’m afraid to drive because of all the angry drivers on the road. I hate driving. I only drive when I have to — like to work, or grocery shopping… but beyond that I stay off the road. Mostly because driving scares me now…I always feel like I’m going to die in some fiery crash every time I get behind the wheel… but also because I suffer from road rage. I have anger issues in general, but driving can bring out the absolute worst in me. I hate who I become when I’m behind the wheel. Most people laugh it off when I tell then and they don’t believe me. I’ve had a few students work for me on the weekends and they’ve been in my passenger seat. They’ve seen it and find it funny since it doesn’t sync up with my classroom personality, but me? I hate it. It’s nowhere near WWJD and isn’t even close to what Jesus would have me do.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecc. 7:8-9
This verse has resonated with me for years because I am easily provoked. I’ve always been rather passive aggressive, so my anger was able to fester for years. And while I’m far from throwing an unsuspecting toy poodle into oncoming traffic, I don’t like the woman I see in the rear view mirror.
I was coming home from work when I glanced up and saw a woman tailgating me. Since there was clearly two other cars in front of me, I wondered what was her damage. I wanted to club her like a seal on the beach. The woman who was tailgating me so closely I could see her horrid face quite clearly. I tried tapping my breaks. That only made her follower closer than I thought possible. I started yelling and reaching for my gun in the glove box. I don’t actually have a gun in the glove box, but she didn’t know that. This trick has worked hysterically in the past and caused tailgaters to give my car a wide berth. Black woman reaching for the glove box? Surely, there must be a gun in there. I was so angry that I was shaking and for a split second I wished there was a gun in there. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to pull my car over and beat the crap out of her. Coward that I am, I wouldn’t have done any such thing, but in my mind I would have and in God’s eye, that’s enough. I’d crossed the bridge of anger into the seriously shaky ground of being a fool.
What’s worse, I was too foolish to see how ugly I must look to him and how anger (all anger) shares the same bitter root. But God… I felt justified. Her actions could have caused an accident. She probably wasn’t insured. More than likely she beat her kids. I would be doing a public service by kicking her teeth in.
I drove home the rest of the way angry. I was telling God that I wasn’t repentant and I didn’t forgive her.
In fact, I hated her. I hated all people. Ok. Maybe not all people… just the a**holes. Yes, I curse when I’m talking to God. He knows what’s on my mind. Why lie about it. Down with people. I’m better off all alone. I hate driving and couldn’t wait to get home to the Bipolar Bubble.
It wasn’t until I got home, had dinner, and had a chance to decompress that I saw how truly ugly my anger was. I hate that part of me. People poo-poo anger until it causes road rage incidents; deranged gunmen to go on shooting sprees in public places; and angry zealots to fly planes into towers. Anger, even small scale anger, is dangerous if left unchecked. God was trying to check me and I wouldn’t let him. My anger ruined an otherwise perfect day.
Praise the God that I love that he can love somebody with such unrepentant anger. He’s not waiting for me to clean up my act to love me or forgive me. He knows me. Inside and out. He saw my anger erupting before I even heard the civil defense warning. Once I thought about how much he loves and forgives me, I had to forgive that woman. It wasn’t a warm fuzzy kind of forgiveness. I don’t know the woman. May never cross paths with her again. But if I don’t forgive her, I will never be free of my anger. I feel like I should buy one of those shirts that say, “I’m with Stupid” and keep it on my passenger seat to remind me that being a fool is a choice. Might only be a split second choice… but it’s still a choice. People choose to shoot other drivers; throw dogs into the road; and openly carry assault weapons into schools. I don’t want to be like that. It’s been a few months since my last real road rage incident, so I felt immune to it. Today was a rude awakening. I’ve been thinking about going back into therapy to deal with my anger issues and all my many phobias. I haven’t really wanted to, but now I think it’s time. My father didn’t raise no fool, so I need to start making different choices if I want to stop the fool in my rear view mirror from taking over.