My neighbor cut me off the other day. I still don’t know his name, but my dog really hates his dogs, so I should have known he was untrustworthy.
I was on my way home, sailing through the two final city blocks when a mid-sized sedan turned out in front of me. It was highly inconsiderate, so I hunched my shoulders, hit the brakes, and did what any upstanding citizen would do—I wailed on my car horn so loud and so long that the whole world heard the echo of this injustice.
I only had half a block to recover and loosen my seatbelt before the same car slowed again for a left turn. I followed shortly behind, making the same turn and then slowly braking to a stop as we both waited for our shared apartment garage door to open.
Bumper-to-bumper we waited; quickly realizing that what happens on the streets doesn’t always stay on the streets. Sometimes it follows you home. Sometimes your neighbor is the one that accidentally cuts you off, and sometimes your car horn portrays you as a much angrier person than you actually are.
As we waited, my neighbor surely assumed I was a serial killer following him home to assert my wrath. Meanwhile, I experienced the private humiliation of realizing I had just publicly disciplined my neighbor within a stone’s throw of our conjoined homes.
We both pulled into our parking spaces and lingered in our cars beyond the ordinary take-the-keys-of-the-ignition-respond-to-a-text-message-wait-till-the-song-ends window.
I assume we both delayed because we realized a major obstacle stood between us and the social safety of our homes. There was an elevator in our near future, and we were going to have to cohabitate the same windowless cube of social awkwardness in the aftermath of the incident.
Molly squawked from the backseat, using her baby verbal skills to tell me to stop being a coward and gather my belongings (including her). I gathered the baby and the diaper bag and took nine deep breathes before traversing the distance between the car and the elevator.
My eyes ducked low to the ground except for one unfortunate moment, and in that moment I made eye contact with the neighbor. He looked awkward. I looked awkward. We exchanged forced, closed-mouth smiles as I broke into baby-holding jog, the kind that looks like a person is trying to jog in high heels with a broken ankle.
I avoided the elevator and headed straight for the stairs where my belongings and I conquered them two at a time. As I slammed the door behind me, I swore never to drive again.
Mercifully, I have not seen this neighbor recently; however, I have since applauded my dog for her sound and righteous instincts. Now when she barks at strangers I think, “Interesting. I wouldn’t have pegged him as a bad driver.”
Did I learn a lesson from this incident, you ask? I wish I could tell you that I now utilize my car horn less, but I would be lying if I said I am no longer a vigilant and vocal citizen. I honk all the time. Now I just pray that the recipients live far, far away.
The problem with this neighbor-driver was that he was in my way—he was messing with the speed and timing of my homecoming. I can’t recall what required my urgent arrival, but I hate waiting, pausing, slowing for a moment of consideration when the end is in sight.
We are still waiting on a lot of things around here; pausing, idling, pacing as we wait on military orders. And buckle up, Sonny, because the longer we wait the more you’re going to have to hear about it on the blog.
It seems that God is running a little late in delivering the answers I assume I’m entitled to. I would dispute His strategic timing, but I understand that God is outside of time itself, so the logistics of that conversation really blow my mind.
I didn’t realize that I had so many opinions until I wasn’t asked for them. Apparently God’s sovereignty doesn’t require my consultation. He leads without always turning the blinker on.
Even when my plans feel bottlenecked by the tension of the great unknowing, even when I’m in a hurry without knowing why, I realize that something important is getting worked out in me—not so much a new depth of understanding as a new willingness to dig my heels into humility and surrender to a bigger story.
I always forget about the bigger story.
I often honk at it when it gets in my way, which makes me appear to be an angrier Christian than I actually am.
I hope my neighbor forgets what I look like. I hope he doesn’t recognize me with sunglasses on. I hope that if he sees me it is only with Molly so he associates me with a gentle, compassionate, maternal figure.
And whenever we move, I hope my future neighbors are better drivers.
For their sake, I hope our dogs get along.
And if all else fails, I hope we live in place without shared elevators.