Driving me mad

Remember that popular song by Rascal Flatts called Life is Highway. It came out before I had spent anytime driving on highways. And now that I have spent a some solid time driving on highways, I too, would like to write a song about how Life is a highway. But because I can’t sing and I only know 6 chords on the ukulele, I’ll just blog about it instead.

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Road rage: I wouldn’t consider myself an angry person. Most people who know me would agree until they ride with me in the car for any amount of time. Confession time my friends, I have a serious case of road rage. And it’s embarrassing and awful to admit. But let me unpack this further.  My longest drive is to and from college. It takes about 3.5 hours and I need a nap afterwards not because I’m physically exhausted but emotionally exhausted because I spent so much energy being angry at the drivers around me. Now look, I’m not stupid. I don’t flick anyone off or aggressively drive. But, I waste three hours of time where It’s just me and God. I can pray, sing as loud as I want to music, or just talk to myself. I waste that time and energy getting angry at other drivers. While in the car today, I realized something about road rage. No matter what the situation is (a driver cuts us off, is driving too slow, driving too fast, not turning fast enough) the root of our anger comes from a lack of control. I can yell at the semi truck going 50 on a 70mph road all I want, but is that going to make him go faster? Nope. I can not control anyone else’s driving but my own. Next time a bozo is going too slow or switching lanes like it’s going out of style, I can tell myself “Now look, marlie, you can not control his driving. Sure it’d be nice if he would go at least 70. But I can’t make him do that. I can only control how I drive.” And even moreso, I can only control my reactions to situations. That applies in and out of the car.

The best advice my mom has given me and continues to give me is this: “You only have control over one person’s actions and feelings. You.”  Just like in the car,  in my daily life, I get so angry at people (in my head) for not acting the way I want them to, or feeling the way I think they should. And is that anger going to change how they act or feel? Nope, even if I talk to that person and confront them about something, I still literally have no control over how they act or feel. I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy trying to get people to think the way I do, or the feel the same way as I do. But that energy is wasted. And I’m drained by the end of the day, more so than I would have been If I had just focused on who I had control over in the situation.

Accidents: While we are on the topic of cars, let’s talk about accidents. Accidents happen on the road and in relationships all the time. Most car accidents happen because of carelessness or distraction.  I’m not a perfect driver; I get distracted and I can be careless sometimes. And the same goes for every person on the road.  I can’t prevent  the car in front of me from slamming on his brakes. I can only be aware and alert of the people all around me while I obey the traffic laws to the  best of my ability. Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  I think the word drive can be entered where live is and be a good driving advice. “as long as it depends on you, drive at peace with everyone.” You stop at red lights, but that doesn’t mean other people will  You go the speed limit but that doesn’t mean people around you will. Accidents happen because we are human. People get hurt and cars get totaled.  You can obstain from sex until marriage, or not murder people, or forgive those who hurt you: but that doesn’t mean other people will.  You can drive perfectly your whole life and still get in a wreck. Because other people make mistakes. Can you stop people from being careless or distracted by other things? No. Another version says “If it can be done, as much as is possible on your part, live in peace with all men.” We can’t stop accidents from happening, we can’t stop people from hurting us, but we do have control over ourselves and how we respond to those who hurt us. This verse is in a passage that is talking about forgiveness. If someone hurts us, the ball us in our courts now we can hold a grudge; take revenge or let it go. Now living with peace with this person depends on YOU. You’re responsible now. They can’t make you forgive them if they apologize. As long as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

taking things too personal: The real interesting thing about driving is that you could spend 15 minutes behind a driver and not even see the driver in the car. You just see how they drive. There are some instances in the car when I think someone is driving a certain way just to make me angry because I passed them or something. It’s weird I know but, I’ve gotten so worked up sometimes because I think this person is angry with me and so I’m upset. “Oh they sped past me after I past them.” they must think (fill in the blank) about me. When really, I glance over at them and they are just on the phone. Not even paying attention. They weren’t sending non-verbal cues at me they were just driving their car. I get so silly in life too over-reading and over-analyzing people thinking each action someone does is somehow about me. I’ve gotten better (braver) about confronting people when something they do hurts me and 95% of the time I over-analyze it or made up some obscene story about how and why they did that because of something I did. I take things way too personal in life and on the road.

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So here’s to us,  road and life ragers alike, messed up people in a messed up world; lost and found travelers on our way Home.

Take a deep breath and release the burden of trying to control people. turn the radio up and enjoy the ride of your life.

Much love and peace your way,

Marlie

So am I alone or can you relate? What is your experience with road rage or life rage? Let me know in the comments below. 

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