Love has been on my mind a whole lot this year.
I’m not talking about romantic love, really, although some of that does come into the mix since I am married to that one guy and after almost 13 years of marriage, finding the spice and romance can be something of a challenge.
Fortunately for everyone, I’ve been more concerned with something hopefully a bit closer to the heart and soul of what – and Who – love is. I’m talking about a love that is Grace and Mercy and Peace and totally undeserved. I’m not good at this kind of love, not in any way. I am slightly better at receiving it than I am at giving it, but that’s not saying much. I am rubbish at extending it and, like most humans I know, can’t quite wrap my head totally around the whole concept of being given something so perfect and unconditional and absolute.
This is a love that is worth chasing, that is worth trying to delve into deeply enough that it does become a more natural part of how I see and interact with the world.
As I pursue a better understanding of love, I am reminded constantly of Mark 12:30-31
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
That’s one doozy of a bold call, and one that seems dang near impossible. Move beyond myself and deeper into Love?
To that end, I’ve been trying really hard over the past several months to love even shitty drivers.
This is not an easy thing. I ‘m not exactly a road-rage filled maniac, but I do get impatient with a lot of things. That deep part of me that cherishes the concept of rules and standards is tried on a daily basis whenever I see someone speeding or changing lanes without signaling or crossing over the solid white line to cut me off for the love of my brake pads.
It starts off with a gentle fume and builds up to my actually yelling out loud in my car, “That is not legal, you moron!” like it’ll actually change anything. It doesn’t make feel better, that’s for sure.
Even when I feel I am doing well and not yelling, I apparently bitch about bad drivers enough to where my friend recently informed me that I made her a more easygoing driver.
“How’s that?” I asked.
“You say things about all these stupid people driving poorly so that I don’t have to. I feel very zen when you’re affirming all my feelings.”
Glad I can help, I guess!
So the challenge over the past several months has been for me to try to remember that yes, even that guy who just ran a red light with his horn blaring as though everyone else were somehow to blame for the near-collisions he would have been at fault for, even that guy is loved by someone.
Not me, but someone. And if I knew him at all, wouldn’t I extend at least a little bit of the benefit of the doubt? Would I ask him why he were being a giant dick or would I ask if everything was okay at home? Maybe he has a kid who fell and and broke an arm. Maybe he really is just a dick on the road but has some lovable qualities elsewhere. The thing is, I’ll never get to know what the story is behind any of it.
And it doesn’t really matter what the story is, in the end. What matters to me is my attitude and my behavior. It’s the only part of this whole equation I can really do anything about[1. Unless I pursue my dream of becoming a traffic cop so I can at least write some of these people tickets!], so I’m working to change it.
Maybe it’s strange to call it love, to try not to get angry and to think of these other drivers as real people with real qualities. But to extend grace, I think you need at least a bit of love at the center of it. And I don’t think you need to know someone to be able to do that. Not when we’re all members of the same family we call humanity.
So yeah, it’s a simple enough concept but one that is terribly difficult for me to master. I mess up all the time. But I’m trying. Hopefully I’ll eventually see a difference in myself and not get too discouraged on my path there.
After all, the things that really matter don’t usually come easy.