This last Thursday I had an unexpected but personally enlightening moment in a McDonald’s drive thru of all places. I had gone all day without caffeine which is not easy for me because I work at a convenience store and I am allowed free drinks. This has attributed to my coffee addiction but some weeks I earnestly try to limit my caffeine intake. So on this day I went through my work day and college classes only drinking water and by 5:00pm I had the dreaded “dragging” moment. I was in rush hour traffic with a headache and a few hours of studying still ahead of me. I knew I needed a boost to keep me from napping and messing up my sleep schedule so I stopped at McD’s for a drink.
After I ordered, I waited for the person in the other drive thru line to go ahead of me since they had finished ordering first. Apparently, me keeping a respectful distance was interfering with the middle aged man behind me getting to order so he decided to scream out the window, “OH MY GOD, GOOOOO!”. It actually startled me and I couldn’t believe he was THAT angry about me not moving forward a few feet so that he could order a few seconds sooner.
I immediately had the urge to react and started to lean out the window to respond. As I turned and looked at him he gave me a disdainful glare and started ordering. That made me shut my mouth. I would say honestly that I am a sensitive person but since working in multiple customer service jobs, my skin has grown thicker over the years. This moment not only embarrassed me and hurt my feelings but it invoked anger and means of retaliation. After he finished ordering I looked in the rearview mirror and started to mumble. Then I stopped myself and took a moment to readjust my thoughts.
I remembered the times that I had been impatient or rude to friends, family, and even strangers. The instances that really stayed with me over time were the ones where the person responded with patience and understanding. I recognize that I have bratty moments and that I attempt to justify them by being caused by stress or people’s incompetence but ultimately it is never justifiable. So I took this time to be understanding towards this man who is also in rush hour, probably just got off work, is hungry and wants to be home, just like myself. It does not excuse his rude actions but it allowed me to relate.
I realize these are small moments that seem insignificant but these little actions exemplify who we are and what we stand for. I have pro-life, pro-conservative political party, and scriptural bumper stickers on my car so I recognize that I represent conservative Christians in these circumstances. If all this man is going to know about me is that I am Christian conservative then I better show him what I stand for. So I made eye contact, smiled, and pulled up to the window to pay.
It took awhile to pay because it was a new employee and I wanted to pay for the man’s meal too. The employee had to find a coworker to help him adjust for a “double card” transaction. I could see the man becoming more impatient behind me as he pulled within inches of my bumper. Just as he started saying things out the window again, I got my receipt and drink and drove off. He may not care that I bought his meal, which is fine. It’s more about the choices I make and the fact that I have to live with those decisions.
It is so easy to take those moments and let the devil win and respond with rudeness justified by self righteousness. God calls on us in those moments to be aware of what we are allowing into our souls. Are we prone to playing the victim in those instances and saying, “well they instigated it so they deserve an equal retaliation”? If so, then we are allowing pride and other sins to eat away at us.
To be honest, I was more irritated with myself in that moment. I claim to be a Christian and I am in constant need of God’s forgiveness and yet I think I am too good to be understanding and forgiving towards others. This is something I witness on a daily basis working in customer service. I see people that are bitter and rude because of a chain reaction of inconsiderate moments with others.
If our society is going to change, if our culture is going to change, we have to start recognizing our identity in the problem. Be understanding, be humble, be patient, be forgiving, and be positive. It is not the easy choice but it is absolutely the right choice. Jesus choosing to die on the cross for our sins is an astounding sacrifice and act of love. It is a love that is almost unrecognizable and incomprehensible for human beings. The right choice is quite often not the easy choice.
If we are worthy of His love and forgiveness then we must do everything possible to love and forgive others. Like my granny Dode always told us, “We are on this earth to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him”. Let us remember to be servants of God and show others the fruits of his love through our actions and way of life.