In traffic, I’ve grown tired of getting cut off, swerved at, beeped at, and being run off the road. In short, I decided to stand up for myself. At first it was rare and half-hearted. ‘No blinker, no access’ I would say to myself. I’d beep with all the might my imported hatchback could muster (… “meep”) But the best defense is a great offense. Riding bumpers, reading lane changes, knowing the road. I became aggressive. Anyone nearing my front bumper was the enemy and I wasn’t going to let them have the satisfaction of getting in front of me!
What happened? My heart changed. I’m a nice, quiet, laid back guy (My mom said so anyway). People take advantage of that. At the end of the day, I want them too. Its the whole point of being nice. But something got inside my head and reasoned that it was MY time. And so I listened. Full on road rage has settled in at times. And I realized something needed to change. So I would, every so often, let people over, slow down at on-ramps, and generally try to share the road. But this was problematic. I still hated those people who could have moved over earlier like everyone else. I still questioned motives. I still saw the angles. My heart hadn’t changed back, only my mind had.
I caught myself today letting someone over and complaining the whole time. They couldn’t hear me but I spoke out-loud to myself… “nice blinker! oh, and no lights on while raining… kudos for the bad driving trifecta!!!!”. I was angry. Doing something nice for someone brings out joy in both parties. Begrudgingly doing something because we feel forced by religion, parents, authorities, school, or any other reason… that breeds contempt. In a moment of God-sent wisdom I realized that I wanted to make people happy. My true desire was to finish last. When I ‘WANTED’ to let people over, it became fun. When I was having fun doing what I loved (being nice, and graceful to those around me), I knew my heart was back in the right place.
The heart controls our default actions… the ones we do without thinking. If I hate driving, drivers, and travel of any kind, then I’m going to be a jerk on the road. I can fool some people temporarily, but the heart will always stay true over the long haul. If I want to be nice to other drivers, I can’t just want it mentally. Its a forced fit that will blow up in my face soon enough. I have to change the default behavior. I have to have the heart of a nice person first, then I can successfully and meaningfully treat people nice.
I hope that makes sense. I hope that analogy works for you… because this is the foundation of understanding the relationship God desires to have with us. We are not forced. But, some of us try to force it. God doesn’t desire us to do things out of feeling forced. God wants our hearts. We can begrudgingly go to church. We can fake a few prayers. We can choke down scripture readings because we know we are supposed to. All of those get a big red X with a buzzer sound.
God wants us to want to. To desire to. To love to. In other words, our default should be to wake up excited for church. Our standard should crave scripture. Our first response… prayer! And if we don’t, that isn’t a huge, colossal failure… it just means its time to stop changing our mind in a case by case basis and start changing our hearts permanently.
Doing something because we have to is called work, slavery or imprisonment. Doing something because we love to is called happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and many other wonderful things. Hearts don’t change overnight. If you start clinching the wheel the next time a truck approaches, start conversing with God. He is behind all successful transplants. Be patient with yourself through the process. God does not want the tired, weary, burnt out leftovers from your life. He gave the best of Himself so He can join with the best of yourself. Anything less than your most enthusiastic and heartfelt best is a mismatched relationship that needs some work.