Driving with love

A Christian Science perspective.

Everyone is aware of the need for safety on the road because driving is the major mode of daily transportation for so many people. Still, some drivers put on a different persona when they get behind the wheel. Aggression, defensiveness, offensiveness, an expectation that they have the right to rule the road can all become the norm.

Sometimes people even treat driving like a game. A friend of mine, visiting one large city in South America, told me that taxi drivers and vendors with small cars literally play “chicken” with each other, although with hardly a dent or collision.

In the United States, millions of cars and trucks travel on major highways and congested city streets every day. So it’s easy to feel irritated now and then because the person in front of us is going too slow. Or the guy late for work is tailgating. Or the hot sports car is approaching too fast and has crossed the yellow line into your lane. Maybe we’ve all done those things from time to time.

One day I was driving through town behind a woman whose car was going extremely slowly. I groaned a bit. Then she slowed down even more. On went her left-turn signal, as she inched into the gas station. I stopped groaning and calmed down. The thought came to me, Be Christian. She’s doing her best. She might be from “away,” or almost out of gas. Be kind.

Instead of gunning my car in frustration and self-righteousness so I could get around her after she turned, I intentionally went around her carefully, in a spirit of genuine Christian compassion. And I was so glad I did – not only for my own peace of mind, but for what almost happened at the next cross street. A car started through the intersection without having fully stopped. Had I been there just a few seconds earlier, we might have collided. But we didn’t. No harm done. I felt doubly grateful.

To me, this simple example of protection helped me see that there is a law of harmony at work bringing peace and safety to the roads we all travel. The Bible says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7).

We can “please the Lord” by acknowledging the divine law of harmony and order as always operative in God’s kingdom. When we do this, we are accepting that realm as the place where we and our fellow drivers actually live. Being conscious of divine Love’s universal law of harmony tempers irritation, softens impatience, and heightens alertness. Our fellow drivers are no longer our enemies, nor are we combatants.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate ‘on earth peace, good will toward men’ ” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 279).

Putting God’s law of Christian brotherhood and sisterhood into practice is also very practical. How grateful we can be for those drivers who stay in their lanes, stick to the speed limit, pull over to talk on the cellphone, and use turn signals thoughtfully.

I still think of that experience with the woman who drove so slowly that morning. It was humbling for me to see directly the value of being more Christian, especially through the safety we all experienced at the next intersection. It taught me a good lesson. And I hope I’ve been a better, more Christian, driver since.

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