I’m not usually subject to road irritation but there is one stretch of road on my way to church that does not always bring out the best in me.
Some of the mitigating factors include a van load of children, some or none of whom may have worn socks even though they were repeatedly asked to put them on, running late because I didn’t time my morning properly, lack of breakfast (see prior mitigating factor), and the knowledge that I will need to apply my makeup in the parking lot of the church with a time limit of about 2 1/2 minutes (I’ve done it).
So there are some Sundays where it’s like a van full of loving kindness and comradery. Songs are sung and jokes are told.
And then there’s the afore-mentioned Sundays (mitigating factors) where my irritation is palpable.
This isn’t a blog about how we put on nice face for church; I regularly come into church realizing that I’m in need of peace that passes understanding.
This is about how my getting to church sometimes lets me know how much I need church.
My story of woe begins with socks, half eaten breakfast, so we were actually half way to good, but yet timing things just right so we would be at church on time. On time only.
I was doing the speed limit. Not by my own virtue but because my youngest is inclined to have an internal radar detector that lets her know when I’m going even 2km over the speed limit.
So I wasn’t speeding but I was intentional about being there on time.
And we were well on our way until, horror of horrors, someone pulled in front of me and proceeded to slow down to 20km under the speed limit and stay there. There was not passing, I needed to be in that lane. And I was miffed.
Not angry, more in the area of exasperated/ticked/miffed/irritated but yet trying to maintain my poise in front of my children who will not learn road irritation from me, that’s for sure!
As the, I’m sure, very nice lady in the sensible sedan turned left I drove by thinking.
“Well, at least she wasn’t one of us. Because then I’d really feel bad.”
Oh yeah. I thought that.
Because if she had gone a bit further and turned left, then she would have been going to my church and then wouldn’t I have felt bad thinking nasty thoughts about someone I knew.
I’m not proud of it either.
But these not proud moments are ones that thankfully, God uses to teach me something about myself, my reactions, my impulses that haven’t yet reached the pinnacle of refining that he’s doing in my life.
So why would it matter if she was at our church or not? And for goodness sake, I should want her to be part of our church!
I’ve been trying to puzzle this out all day. Why would it matter if I was irritated with that lady and I ended up following her all the way to the church parking lot?
I think it’s something about the goodness of church.
Because at church, I’m surrounded by people who I care for and people who care for me.
And part of that caring means I let them into my life, make space for them to speak into my life about how God dreams I can be.
There are people there that I know on a deep and intimate level and I know that we all struggle.
And there are people there that I love very deeply.
It’s not that I would feel judged if someone knew that I had those unkind thoughts this morning. It’s that I’m on a journey with these people to seek Jesus. To love as he loved. To love everyone because knowing him means that I represent his love to others.
And driving into the parking lot of the church with people seeking to love means that when I don’t love, I’m reminded of why it’s my privilege to do so.
And today was a reminder that loving people extends beyond the church walls. That we reach out to those who irritate us, repel us, reflect us.
Realize that grace in the little things is a reflection of God’s grace to me in the biggest thing.
My irritation with that lady is no reflection of her, but a reflection of the gentle work that God still has to do in me.
And driving into the parking lot of a place where grace is offered to me is a good place to continue my journey.