I am an avid cyclist. And I have always found there to be something invigorating about taking the day to challenge myself to discover a rhythmic harmony of man and bike. I live for the long sunny days where I can set out, not knowing where my journey will take me. I not only push the physical limits of endurance, climbing, and speed but also the constraints of my mind. Often my trek becomes a wayside sacrament of mediation and prayer.
This past Friday, however, I was not welcomed by the usual peaceful ride of solitude. Instead I was jolted into reality with the sharp and cutting words of a distraught man.
Minding my own business, part way into my ride I was met by a red stop light. And to obey the rules, I of course was holding position until the light was to change to green.
While waiting, a white truck had approached and stopped behind me. Then from nowhere, I began to hear screaming. With my headphones originally in my ears, I didn’t quite comprehend what was happening. Thinking that it was a friend trying to get my attention, I turned around to see who was causing such a raucous.
As I pulled the earbuds from my ears, I was immediately greeted with profanity laced and name calling conversation. I took a moment to assess the immaturity of a middle aged man. Many thoughts initially raced through my mind, but I remained calm amidst the harassment that ensued. I tried to explain in my defense that legally bikes and automobiles equally share the road. Further I explained that I am in no way intentionally holding him up and that we are both responsible to patiently wait at the light.
His cussing and hatred continued, but no matter how truthful or factual my statements were, there seemed no way to calm his rage. So I sized him up, took inventory of the situation, and decided to take another approach.
While I am known to many, and often referred to as a “peacemaker,” I also am a fighter. Of course I did not want to provoke him to shoot me (if he were to have a gun), but I did want to put him on the defensive.
Since there was no reasoning with him, I flatly stated, “You must be a democrat.”
Now instead of insulting me further, his R-rated and inappropriate language turned into a state of confusion as he tried to prove himself as anything but.
I had him trapped. My statement intentionally illuminated his unsuccessful attempt of intimidation.
The light at that moment turned. As quickly as the conversation began, it had ended and he sped out of sight.
I must admit that I was not sorry to watch him leave.
The next twenty miles were spent reflecting on the situation. A wide range of thoughts and emotions flooded my senses as I tried to make sense of how one human being could so easily treat another with such hatred.
I was not overcome with hatred or vengeance, but rather sadness of heart. I could not help but wonder in curiosity as to why he had treated me the way he did. Was there some other circumstance in his life that had overwhelmed him to the point that any situation, not matter how small would set him into an underworldly rage? Could he be facing economic tribulation? Or a stressful family situation? Or some unnerving crisis?
All I knew was that his misdirected behavior wasn’t meant for me. I was just someone available to take his hardships out on with verbal abuse.
Two remaining observations remain. First, this was the first republican that I had ever found myself truly at odds with. This infuriated me. I have always seen such tactics and verbiage used by democrats (though not all democrats). And as a republican I expect us to live differently.
Secondly, as a Christian, I am reminded that I will be judged on my response in the, or any, unsettling situation. I am not responsible for the actions of another. Only myself. Chuck Swindoll has wisely stated that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” So true.
Now I encourage you brothers and sisters to walk in light and walk in peace. Love those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you.
I, no doubt, will continue to pray for the man I was recently at odds with.