I stood in the middle of a two-lane road today and screamed at someone.
I was trying to be thoughtful. I was trying not to inconvenience anyone. And it back-fired. (Yes, that is self-pity you hear in my voice.)
I was going for a walk, and I reached the road. I could’ve hit the crosswalk button, but then the cars would’ve had to stop, and I knew I could cross to the center median before the car to my left even came close, and that I could wait there a few seconds until the car to my right passed.
But instead, just as I was stopping at the center median, the car to my right slammed on his brakes and started screaming at me about not hitting the crosswalk button. He was irate and dropping f-bombs… and so what was there to do but defend myself in typical Tamara style? It’s the social worker in me. I can’t keep my ever-loving mouth closed when something feels unfair.
And so I faced him, moving deliberately out in front of his car, and I screamed: “I WAS WAITING FOR YOU!”
More f-bombs on his end, and then his tires squealed and he drove away.
And I resumed my walk.
Only it only took me a few minutes of processing before I burst into shoulder-shaking, hiccuping sobs. And I walked that way, crying, for the next fifteen minutes, making people uncomfortable while I passed.
And, admittedly, the driver was maybe not even wrong for being mad. I’m sure he thought I was going to cross the road in front of him.
But I also know a typical person, even one who was angry with me, wouldn’t have screamed like that and swore repeatedly at me.
I text messaged Laura after that. “I don’t think I’m feeling very ‘love wins’ today,” I said.
I was reading a book description last night.
“…finding strength and courage in the most unimaginable places.”
“Determined to dictate their own fate…”
“…give each other strength and hope as they fight to survive…”
“Brave and defiant…”
“…friendships that will both nourish and challenge her.”
“A beautiful testament to love, family, and the sheer force of will…”
“…a figure of abiding grace.”
If someone were to write a story about my life, I would want it described in that way.
I want to live a beautiful story.
I was talking with Pauline yesterday about fighting for truth, about not letting my emotions dictate my behaviors.
I told her how I felt, and then I said: “But the best thing I can do for [this person] is to set my emotions aside and fight for truth. And I want to do that.”
I do. I want to love well. I don’t want to make my emotions, (which, let’s face it, are often the product of lies and fears), the priority of every situation. I want to choose love. I want to choose them over me.
After I said all that, Pauline reminded me that she’s talked with me for a long time about fighting for truth. Admittedly, I have kind of rolled my eyes at it before, believing my emotions to always be the truest, most important thing.
Then Pauline said, “It strikes me that God knows you through and through. He created you. And He knew that, in order to commit to this fight, He’d have to put you face-to-face with something you really valued.” Then she paused and said, “And He knew you’d fight if it was for [this person].”
It’s so true.
God doesn’t put us in situations that hurt, but He uses them.
Our pain isn’t without meaning.
Love, love that puts the other person first, that shushes our own scream for comfort and security, it’s hard.
It’s a series of deliberate and conscious choices.
Whether it’s space or a hug, a night out or a long conversation, you show up (metaphorically or otherwise) in the name of love.
And, for all the ways you can’t make things better, you lift that person up in prayer. You plea and petition with the Lord to do for that person what you are incapable of doing.
You take a deep breath and you do the right thing. Over and over and over again. You tell your other emotions to sit down, and you call Love to the bat.
And you text a friend. You ask for prayer. Because Lord knows how hard it is to make smart choices, especially when your emotions are involved. You say, “Please pray with me for strength to make the right choices, and for my perspective to be based only on truth, and for my heart to be filled with peace and patience.”
Because we need each other. Loving well takes being loved well.
A few days ago, Pauline asked me how I’d like to be remembered when this life of mine ends.
And, without hesitation, I said: “She loved well.”