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November 1, 2018 • Thoughts on Personal Growth

A Lesson in Love from a Night out Driving

Yesterday, my wife and I took a half day trip up to Estes Park, Colorado to enjoy some fresh snowfall and a day around the quaint mountain town. We had a nice meal with family and friends and enjoyed some of the communities’ festiveness with their celebration of Halloween. We had coffee, caramel apples, chili, and a handful of candy.

My First Caramel Apple! Free in Estes Park for Halloween

After the fun times, we had to start thinking about driving down the mountain canyon back to our home an hour away.

Usually, when I am driving up or down this area I become a little annoyed with how people drive. Estes Park is a very tourist-y place so people often go up to the town without knowing much of how to drive in the mountains. This can really annoy me, because well, I struggle with a self-righteous bent from time-to-time.

This Canyon road on CO Highway 34 is mostly 2-lanes the whole way up or down. That means that if you are stuck behind someone who is going very slow (like and RV or Semi truck) you are stuck behind them for the next 40 minutes.

Decent, mountain-driving etiquette in these parts is to pull over to the shoulder or a pull-off when such situations arise so that you can let the smaller, faster vehicles pass. That keeps traffic from building up for a quarter mile behind slower vehicles and keeps frustrations low.

My lesson in love comes from experiences in these sorts of situations. I am prone to get angry with people when they don’t pull over to let me by. I try to rush them, sometimes flash my headlights their way. I try to make it very obvious that I am wanting to pass them.

Last night was different. The day before, the town had seen several inches of snow. The sun came out and melted a lot of it the next day. But that can mean that by nightfall, ice is created on roadways from the runoff. I wanted to drive down slower, just to be safe.

Snow fall in Estes Park, CO. Late October.
Light Snowfall in Estes Park, Oct. 30th, 2018.

Like usual, there was some traffic, but I wasn’t the one trying to get to ahead of everyone. We were driving down and every few minutes a car would come up behind us and I would wait for the nearest pull-off and then let them pass me. I had a bit of a self-righteous mood going on. I was saying to myself, “See how easily done this is!?”

But coming off my Mission Trip is Costa Rica and from conversation with my wife I was really thinking about how to best teach people. And my experience with driving down this canyon served as a good metaphor for what I was learning in this moment.

I have all to often tried to change people’s behavior through passive-aggressively showing people the better ways of doing things. I try to show that there is a better way, but usually not with patience or love. And I was struck. If I want people to change how they drive, I can flash my lights and threaten to pass people or I can show love and patience on the road. When people need to get by me, I can lead by example.

Now, will my love on Highway 34 change traffic patterns? No, probably not. But, I might be able to show a few drivers how to better driving in those situations. Also, with me wearing more love, I might frustrate a lot less. Both of these options are net-gains.

And here is the lesson. Instead of being angry with people, if we deal with them in love, they are much more likely to change in positive ways. They are much more likely to see a compelling way to live that they currently are not experiencing. Our love shines brighter and longer than our bitterness or annoyance.

I love learning from simple situations in life. I am glad that God communicates with us in these sorts of ways and so often. What has God shown to you in the last couple weeks?

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