My then-five-year-old was in the back seat.
“What happened, Mommy?” she asked.
“This lady pulled right out in front of mommy’s car. She was going way too fast and wasn’t paying attention and Mommy beeped to let her know she almost hit us,” I explained in my “Mom voice” so as to not let her hear the annoyance that was truly deep down in me.
A silence filled the air inside our mid-size SUV for a couple of minutes…and then her little voice took over the space again.
“Mommy, please don’t be mad at that lady for going fast,” she said.
“Maybe there was someone that needed her really bad. Like her kids or something. And she was going fast because she needed to get to them.”
I glanced up to my rearview mirror and caught her eyes looking into mine.
She shrugged her shoulders and turned her palms in the air … an exclamation point put on her not-so-subtle suggestion that I should maybe consider that fact before I got so angry.
I recall my girl’s beyond-her-years empathy in that car almost every time someone “crosses” me.
Sometimes I channel it right away and give the person a pass. Other days my hand hits the horn before I can catch myself… and on those days I’ll pause, take a breath and make up a little story in my head about a good reason that person may have cut me off.
Maybe her baby was throwing up in the back seat and she was trying to get to a safe place to pull over and clean her off.
After all…I have been the frantic mom behind that wheel trying to focus on the road while assuring my sick baby she was ok.
I’ll do the same thing when I feel the wrath of impatience of a person behind me in the grocery line as I fumble through the diaper bag for my wallet while my three kids pretend the cart is a jungle gym. I’ll assume his frustration with me is a result of his exhaustion from getting two hours of sleep in each of the last three nights due to sick kids at home.
After all… I have been the exhausted, impatient person behind someone in line before, too.
I’ll do the same thing when a friend cancels on me for the the fourth time in a row. I’ll assume maybe she needs some alone time… and isn’t quite ready to share with me that she’s struggling with something.
After all… I’ve been the friend that is the serial-rescheduler… because I just wasn’t feeling like myself as I navigated personal hurdles.
It’s a super power.
It transforms anger to kindness.
It shoots out grace and dissolves angry words.
It fends off negativity.
And it’s one of the greatest tools we can use as we navigate this life.
Because someone in your path will need it really bad… just like that driver’s kids probably needed her.
Let’s choose to be the one who gives it.