I was about halfway through a two-hour drive, on a huge mixed lane highway Monday when suddenly, the car in front of me put on the brakes and the blinker. Apparently she needed to get to the exit, which was four lanes over to the right. I couldn’t pass on either side and no one was letting her over. So she drove even slower. Let’s just say I instantly got a little impatient. I couldn’t believe someone would actually do this in the middle of the highway. Then in that moment, I had a different thought.
I wonder what’s going on with her.
I wonder why she needs to get over this badly. It was strange because I don’t typically have this much compassion while driving. But when she finally got over and I was passing her on the left, I looked at her. She was probably no more than 16 and terrified. She was probably completely panicked, stuck in the middle of all of that. She needed compassion from all of us, not judgement.
But compassion in traffic isn’t natural.
Over the weekend, I heard Craig Pierce talking about humility in relationships. He talked about how loving people with a gentle compassion is possible, but not natural. That idea hasn’t left my mind.
It’s possible, not natural.
It’s true in my relationship with Scott. I can have great ideas in my head of how I’m going to show up for him with love and kindness, but until I’m in that moment choosing to put them into action, they are just great ideas. It’s certainly true with my kids. I can plan to have the patience of Job during homework hour, but as soon as the frustrations build and I get sideways with them, my plans don’t mean much. They don’t mean much, unless . . .
Unless I make the next choice differently.
And that is so hard to do. It’s possible to show up in our relationships with humility, gentleness and compassion, but it’s not natural. It happens first in our thoughts. Then in those little tiny actions that make up the choices of our common days.
Every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character. ~ Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
Being the kind, patient, loving adult you and I want to be isn’t impossible, but it’s certainly not natural. It means paying more attention to the little thoughts and actions of our common days.
Days like today.
It means noticing what’s natural and choosing what’s possible instead.
to more love,