Driving and the Real Me

I haven't posted much in the 'Cars and Driving' category. Certainly not as much as I thought I would when I started this blog. I think about cars and driving a lot. I'm what might be called a driving geek, that is I love to drive and have spent a lot of time thinking about how to be the best driver I can. Not in the racing sense as most car enthusiasts would, but simply in the everyday sense. I've come to a simple conclusion in recent years. I am as good a driver as I am a person.

A good friend of mine in college described himself before becoming a Christian that he had the attitude that "People were stupid, and I ought to tell them." I laughed at his arrogance, and could relate to his attitude pre-disciple, but what I failed to see was that was my attitude in driving. It wasn't until years later when traveling with my wife and seeing her fear at my driving habits that I began to see my sin. I asked her about it and she said that she felt that I saw my self as a right and good driver and that everyone else was wrong and furthermore it was my responsibility to show them. Wow, that hurt but it was true. While I was knowledgable about good driving practices, I was also uncaring, unforgiving and arrogant.

The irony was that because I was blinded by my pride, I wasn't really as good a driver as I thought. I would do the very things the made me angry in others. If someone would tailgate me, I would let them around a tailgate them to 'show them how it felt'. I let the behavior of others stir up my emotions and lead me into bad driving practices. It's actually pretty comical thinking back on it how foolish I was.

What I've come to realize is that good driving, like good discipleship, is not a matter of following all the rules but of what kind of man I am. As I drive, am I looking out only for my interests or other's too? All of the things that irritate me about driving I find are selfish acts. I'm not going to get over after I pass this car and before I pass the next because I might not get back in. I know it might mean that one or two of you who want to go faster could get by, but I don't want to take the risk of getting stuck over there. I'm not going to let you in because I technically don't have too and besides I might miss that light. I'm not in any hurry so I don't need to keep close to the car in front going through this short left turn arrow, even though my hesitation might mean a couple of you back there will have to wait through another light cycle. All of these things are not so much violations of the law or good manners but a lack of character. It speaks to who I am.

Expounding on this I came to the realization that driving, particularly driving alone, is a profoundly spiritually revealing experience. Why is it that I turn into this whole other person behind the wheel? Who is this angry man who desires to do these mean things (I've got to close the gap or someone might take advantage of me!)? Why do I have an aversion to acts of kindness (speeding up so that guy doesn't beat me!) when there's no one to criticize me for being mean? Who is that guy yelling at total strangers, looking down on them for their driving skills? I really think that driving alone gives a glimpse into our unchecked, unrestrained sinful selves - at least it does for me. (Perhaps there's an activity for you that does the same thing.) There's been so many times that I just want to get out of the car and go apologize to that other driver. Oh how I wish I could tell them that I am a fool, please forgive me. But in a car you can't do that. Your sin just hangs out there, damage done and no way to undo it, to make it right. I wonder how many times this happens in other parts of my life that I don't see so clearly.

I've com a long way since my early marriage in my driving. My wife is not scared to ride with me anymore and I've learned to let things slide. There's nothing I can do, I cannot teach anyone anything and besides, the probably aren't interested in learning anyway. But that desire and arrogance is still there and every now and then it slips out and I'll say or do something scary. It's then that I am grateful for Jesus and fearful of what I would be without Him. I guess this wasn't much about Cars and Driving either.

1 Comment

I completely concur. I think that you are very insightful. I too often will catch myself wanting to "Get even" with another driver, or "not loose face". Speeding up and slowing down irrationally. Then why, to serve my own selfish motivations. My pride, my ego, my self-serving nature. Like I am better than that other person in the car next to me. Philippians 2:3 makes it clear as to what attitude we should take with anybody. Considering others better than your self. It also says in Philippians 2 that Jesus lowered himself to servent status to mankind. I (we) should go the extra lengths to let people in, and to encourage them in there journey. I think about like this: if Jesus himself were driving on the freeway (in a modest car I'm sure, just maybe glowing a little), how would you treat him? Now contrast that to how you treat strangers on the road. I fail miserably. But I suppose that gives me something to shoot for.

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  • I completely concur. I think that you are very insightful. I too often will catch myself wanting to "Get even" with another driver, or "not loose face". Speeding up and slowing down irrationally. Then why, to serve m...