A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
Did you see that viral video of the two menopausal women who get in a car fight? One of them bumps the other’s door and doesn’t apologize, and the tension escalates so much that they end up wrecking each other’s cars! Pretty funny – until it nearly happens to you!
A while ago, my kids and I were waiting in a parking lot for a friend. I would be taking her kids and mine to a birthday party. I had already sustained several irritations that day. Up walked Ms. Rich Kid and her swanky boyfriend. They got in their brand new SUV, and her door hit my van as she swung into the passenger seat. Did she apologize? No, she did not. Did she even look in my direction? No, she did not. Did she ignore me while I tried to get her attention? Yes, she did. Was I upset? YES, I WAS UPSET!!!
They hauled off into their perfect world while I sat and waited for my friend. And waited. And waited. My friend was 15 minutes late. Did she notice? No, she did not. Did she apologize for wasting 15 minutes of my precious time? No, she did not. Was I upset? ONLY SLIGHTLY!!!
As I neared the exit of the parking lot, I noticed a group of shoppers in front of me, waiting to cross from the store to their vehicles. This was the ugly thought that screamed through my head: YOU GUYS CAN JUST WAIT! Let’s pause the movie for a moment and analyze the obvious.
Why was I prone to being mean just then? I had just taken two of those little blows that buffet and prick us during any given day. With the accumulation of earlier stresses, they had pushed me over my patience threshold. I felt that I could not absorb any more of life’s harrassments. The bad vibe would have to spill out onto someone else.
But, miraculously, it wouldn’t.
It’s funny how God can use even a YouTube video. I remembered those crazy menopausal women, and I realized how stupid it is to perpetuate the negative waves that hit us. No one wins. I chose to let both incidents go. I stopped my van and let the shoppers pass, and amazingly, the stress inside me sort of evaporated. I want to do that more often.
I’ve read that expressing anger safely (punching a pillow, for example) works to process and eliminate the emotion. I’ve also read that this method actually increases anger. I believe the latter. In my experience, mulling over and acting on whatever caused my anger makes it grow.
Happily, God has given us the tools to stop the negative waves. We can pray. We can talk things through with a friend. We can forgive. We can exercise patience. We can absorb the unpleasant feelings, and put out something better. The person who passed the wave on to us was probably hit by it earlier. Or, they might just be selfish. Either way, we can stop the wave.