Road rage/Road grace

I think I’m a better driver than most. I bet you do too, and most drivers probably do too. When there’s a slowdown or stressful freeway lane changes, I’m pretty sure it’s the fault of the dopes and idiots around me. Judging from all the road rage incidents every day, there seems to be a lot of blaming going on. Sinful human nature being what it is, we have figured out fairly quickly how to express our anger: horn honking, fist shaking, and the “You’re Number One” upraised middle finger. Here’s my question for you today: why haven’t we developed a corresponding hand and finger language of grace?

I suppose it’s because all of us are quicker to anger and judgment than we are to accepting responsibility and asking for forgiveness. I’d like to get better at expressing my Christian faith when I’m driving. Even though other drivers won’t know I’m doing it for Christian reasons, God will, and that’s enough.

Here’s another question: what if you realize that you are the one who has executed a shaky driving maneuver, cut somebody off, or were straying from your lane? We need a universally recognized hand signal for “my bad,” “so sorry,” and “my mistake.” I’ve heard a few suggestions, but they don’t do anything for me. One writer suggested giving yourself the middle finger. I don’t like it. Too risky. It still looks like blaming, and when that middle finger comes out, people assume you’re angry and think you have a right to be so. Another person suggested lifting your palms up and shrugging. Nah. That looks like you’re blowing off the incident as unimportant or denying that it was your fault, as if to say to the other drivers, “Deal with it.” “Get over it.”

Here’s my proposal—if you like it, spread the idea and soon we will have a major “road grace” movement under way. To communicate “my fault,” stick your left hand out the window and point at yourself. With your index finger, of course. Maybe even poke the air a few times. That digit can be the “sorry finger.” And when some kind Samaritan let’s you merge into tight traffic or go first at an intersection, stick your hand out, palm forward, and give a little wave. That means, “Thank you!”

Anyone can get angry. It takes grace to be kind.

Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.


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