Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
We’ve all had the experience of sitting at a long traffic light waiting to turn left. The special left turn arrow turns green, and it seems like no one is moving. We know that the arrow won’t be green for long, it never is. We wonder if we’ll make it through the green arrow before it turns red and we are stuck through another cycle of everyone else getting to move before the arrow turns green again. Our palms start to sweat. Our blood pressure starts to rise. Why is no one moving? Probably because the “stupid guy” (we say) in the front is looking at his phone. Cars start honking. Finally, the first car in the line moves, just as light arrow turns yellow. And we’re all stuck at the light for another three minutes, everyone except for the guy in the front who was probably on his phone and not paying attention.
Don’t you just hate when this happens? I know I do. Time is the most precious commodity we have and I don’t like wasting time, particularly in traffic.
One day, I was sitting at a long light, at the front of the line, and, bored, I started reading emails. The left turn arrow turned green, and I didn’t notice. So I didn’t move, until people started honking their horns at me. Then I looked up, saw the light was green, and turned left. I’m positive that my delay in moving cost at least a few people getting the green light and probably cost them a few minutes of their lives, and probably raised their blood pressure, maybe led to them saying a few swear words, maybe had them late for work, or for picking up their children from school.
We’ve got a lot of anger in the world today. Rude drivers, rude customers, cranky workers, etc. The opposite of anger is joy and peace. So, we’ve got to ask ourselves, are we part of the problem, are we anger-causing people? Or are we part of the solution, are we injecting joy and peace into the world. Are we peacemakers, or peace takers?
In the moment after I went through the green light, and realized that because of me, others wouldn’t go through the light, I recognized, “in this moment, I am part of the problem, not part of the solution.” We all have things that annoy us in life, like people being inattentive while driving. Ironically, I was doing the very thing that others do to annoy me. It was certainly a moment where I felt like a hypocrite, often complaining about how annoying inattentive drivers are, and in this moment, I’m sure others were complaining about me. And so I resolved to not look at the phone at red lights any more, so that I can be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
No one likes when people are rude to them. Thus, in order to be part of the solution, we shouldn’t be rude to others. There is so much going on in the world, and we are so quick to point out the shortcomings of others. A well-known phrase comes to mind—when you are pointing your finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you. That’s true, point your index finger at someone, your thumb rests on top, and your other three fingers point back at you. So before we criticize others for causing problems, we need to ask ourselves how many problems we are causing. And we need to check ourselves from many different angles, to make sure that what we are doing is part of the solution and not part of the problem.   When we all work hard to be conscientious drivers, there won’t be as many people missing green lights. When we all work hard to be courteous customers, there won’t be as many rude ones. When we all work hard not to be cranky workers, our work environments will become more peaceful, and so on. When we all do our share to be part of the solution, we won’t have as many problems.
There are people who are peacemakers—their presence brings peace to chaos. And there are people who are peace takers—their presence brings chaos where there was peace. Each day, we will be faced with opportunities to be both. And how we behave in each situation will either create problems or bring solutions.
Lord, thank You for today and the opportunities it will bring. As happens every day, I know that I will have opportunities to create both problems and solutions for others. Help me to put myself in the shoes of other people, so that I can be a more attentive driver, a more courteous customer and a friendlier worker. Help me to be a person who brings peace rather than takes it. Help me to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Amen.
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.