A friend recently shared a note she found on her windshield in the mall parking lot. The angry message was critical of how she parked her car. I had to laugh. This friend is far from the world’s best driver and has a track record of speeding tickets and parking lot fender benders. But, to her defense, this time was different.
The note read: “Park straight and learn to be considerate of other people.” There were additional choice words and names included, but I’ll leave those out for you.
My friend went on to justify her crooked car. An elderly woman using a walker parked next to her, and my friend parked far enough to the side so the woman could comfortably fit through the space. She then jumped out to walk alongside the woman and help her to the doors of the mall.
Contrary to the note-writer’s presumptions, this was not a careless or self-centered endeavor.
My friend felt the amount of space left for a car on the opposite side was reasonable. Her desire was simply to bless someone, not to create a difficult experience for someone else.
This past week, I stood in lines at the pharmacy, bank and grocery for what seemed like an eternity. While on hold, waiting for a call to go through to customer service, I listened to the same jazz song on repeat for 30 minutes.
I actually thought waiting another minute might kill me. It was a week where everything felt difficult and problematic. I was so irked by each inconvenience and all of the time that felt wasted.
I wonder now if what seemed like an inconvenience to me was a result of someone else blessing another person. At the time, it was easiest for me to blame a poor process or lousy person for disrupting my day, and that’s exactly what I did.
But that’s not who I am called to be.
Christ holds His followers to a higher standard. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
This command applies to our relationships not only with our loved ones, but also with those in parking lots, check-out lines and behind counters.
Christ calls us to love others just as He loves us (John 13:34). Most people are doing the best they can, and we are called to love them, regardless of inconveniences.
Love is the greatest gift we have to offer someone, and when we feel slighted, it can often be the hardest to give. Showing love costs us nothing but our own selfish desires, and Paul reminds us that without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).
The Message paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 puts it this way:
“So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me-first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.”
The holiday season is always busy, but I think we can agree that, in general, everyone’s hope for this time of year is the same: To spend time with our loved ones, bless others, celebrate the season with those we love and experience the joy and peace of Christmas.
It’s inevitable that unexpected incidents will slow us down on our way there, but let’s remember—we’re all trying to get to the same place.
Let us look for and believe the best in others when we’re tempted to feel bothered by them. Let us love and put our judgments, sense of entitlement and pride to rest.
If most people are doing the best they can, let us join them by doing our best to love.
Madalyn Latter is a Women’s Ministry associate at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus.