I have a question to ask those of you who drive.
Do you like to stop at red lights, especially when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere important?
People often say that I’m a very patient person. It’s very nice of them to say that, but I should tell you that these people probably have not seen me behind the wheel. I spew sarcasm at drivers who turn without using a blinker (“Nice blinker, genius.”), who stay put when the light turns green (“It’s the pedal on the right!”), and who drive in the rain without headlights (“Really, dude?”), among other things. I never honk at bad drivers, only because it’s too late to do so when I’m finished yelling at them. (If I’ve yelled at any of you, I’m really sorry.)
Sometimes I’m particularly anxious if I’m trying to turn left onto another street. Even if I’m at a stoplight and the light is green, I still have to wait until other cars have gone by before I can turn. I get antsy as the wave of traffic comes, because each car that passes by takes time away for me to turn before the light turns red. I tend to get more impatient when another car pulls up behind me, also wanting to turn left. I have to not only wait, but use good judgement as I decide whether or not I should make a speedy turn before the oncoming car reaches the intersection, or if I should be a cautious driver and wait it out a little bit. (For the record, I prefer to be cautious.) Sometimes I get lucky and find enough of a gap for me to turn left while the light is still green. However, sometimes there is so much traffic that I have to wait as the light turns yellow, and finally red. By then, it’s too late to go anywhere. I have to wait some more. Sometimes this situation forces the driver behind me to wait, as well. It is one of the few times that I might feel a little bad for another driver on the road.
On the other hand, sometimes while waiting to turn left at an intersection with a green light, I notice that all oncoming traffic slows to a stop. I look up, and a green arrow lights up in front of me. I don’t have to wait anymore. I have a clear shot, with a direction specifically for me, telling me that now is the best time to go ahead.
I think life can be like that sometimes. We’re trying to go somewhere important. Maybe it’s to a new job, a new home, a new graduate program, a new relationship status with our significant other, or some other new chapter in life, but we have to stop and wait, whether we want to or not. Many times, we don’t want to. We know where we want to go. Why can’t we just get there already?
One way we can react to this situation is to let impatience have the upper hand. We anxiously wait for the next available opportunity to make that turn, sometimes accelerating like crazy to make it there before the next obstacle comes along. It’s sometimes effective, but it’s stressful. Is that extra stress really worth it? What do we gain by jumping the gun?
Another option is to wait for a little while. People might think this is unproductive, but it doesn’t have to be. While you’re stopped where you’re at, take in the view. Enjoy the beauty that God has created and placed around you, whether it’s flowers growing on the side of the road, the shapes of the clouds in the sky, or the setting sun. Learn from the people around you in your present situation. Stay busy while you wait.
Before you know it, you’ll get a green arrow, specifically for you, telling you that it is the best time to go ahead to what’s next.
If you know me well, you know that I can stress over people and situations quite a bit. I don’t always stop and smell the roses as much as I should, and I’m very hard on myself. If life was a series of left turns at stoplights on a busy street, I’d knot up my stomach as I waited for a slight break in the traffic and the chance to make a break for where I want to go next, especially if a driver comes up behind me. It’s unnecessary. In this crazy life, I should trust God, take a deep breath, quit stressing over strangers’ opinions on how I roll, and enjoy the ride as I wait for that arrow.
Here’s to learning how to do that in the days ahead.