I have really struggled, since becoming a Christian, with a number of tenets of Christianity. The toughest ones to follow, it seems, are the building blocks of the whole saving grace. Of course they are. If it were simple, I wouldn't need grace, right?
The one that stumps me daily is the need to love others. This is how the world will know the followers of Jesus—by the way we love one another. Yikes.
I was not feeling love yesterday. I was feeling many other emotions. Not love.
It was my turn to take my son to his little Lego class (snapology.com). I had just dropped him off, and I prepared to pull out of the parking lot, making a left turn so I could then turn left again to reach the gas station for a refill. It was a messy, rainy night, the shiny road surfaces reflecting bright headlights like mad. People were going too fast, as people who drive big killing machines on sleet-y nights are wont to do. I made sure I had lots of time and space, pulled out of the lot, and then drove a short way and into the turning lane in the middle of the highway. I used my left turn signal. Maybe I went too slowly? Maybe the poor visibility made me a tad more cautious and timid than usual? Or maybe I did nothing wrong. Maybe I was just in the path of someone's misdirected rage.
I had come to a stop in the turning lane, blink blink blink went my turn signal, and a large pickup truck pulled in front of me on a slight angle. It halted. The window rolled down with a fervor, and I looked with shock as a clean-cut young man threw his left arm out in my direction and flipped me a very angry, deliberate middle finger.
He glared at me as he saluted me, looking right into my eyes to ensure that I knew this bird was for me and me alone. It took a second or two for it to register in my mind that he was, indeed, flipping me off. Me. Why? I did not know. How to respond? I gathered my wits, smirked at him, and waved a friendly hand. He pulled his arm back in, rolled up the window, and sped back into the moving traffic lane.
How to respond to that? I sat, shaking slightly with bewilderment, perplexed as to what I had done to merit his supercilious assault. Then I got a break in the oncoming lanes, and I pulled into the gas station and filled the tank. Still confused. Still wondering what crime I had committed.
I ran to the grocery store for a few items, still replaying the scene in my mind. Still uncertain what wrong I had done.
I parked and went to get a cup of coffee to waste the remaining half hour before Lego class wrapped up. It began to dawn on me that it might be a good thing that I don't carry a loaded weapon. I began to realize, too, that no matter what I had done, it would not have merited such a mean-spirited, personal attack. I could only hope that the enraged kid had gotten the ire out of his system when he sent his clear message to me, and that his evil would end there.
I know, it's just a finger. Worse things happen to people every day. I guess it was just the senselessness of the act, the sheer meanness of it, and his utter lack of consideration for anything that might be going on in my world. And I pondered, for the millionth time, how God can love us, and how in God's name I can ever rise to the occasion of loving my fellow men and women.
We are, so help me God, an unlovable, awful, wretched, ignorant, smug, self-righteous bunch of jerks.