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‘Bear with one another...’

The other day when I went to pick up my kids from daycare, I merged onto the road thinking I had given myself ample room to make speed ahead of the oncoming traffic. It turns out I didn’t.

The person coming up behind me was going quicker than I thought and did not appreciate the fact that I had pulled out in front of him. I know this because he flicked me off. Then, after I made the turn onto my daycare’s road, he flicked me off again.

Thankfully, I was in a good mood that day and was not bothered by this man’s gesture. In fact, I felt for the guy. I almost felt sorry for this man because he was so frustrated and because he looked a little ridiculous as a grown man acting in that fashion.

I didn’t expect this man’s behavior would cause me to reflect on my own, but I did. There are too many times that I too get annoyed and frustrated by other people’s driving.

As I reflected on all this after the fact, two things came to mind. The first is that we never know what someone else is going through at a given moment, or on any given day. So, although the way they treat us might have to do with us, it is probably much more about them.

For instance, perhaps the man I annoyed was in a terrible hurry and I was just one more unexpected setback for him that day.

The second thing that came to mind after this incident is that when adults act like children who don’t know better, we look like fools. And if we want our kids to not bully, act respectfully, and use their manners, it goes without saying (but bears repeating) that we need to model the behavior we want to see ourselves.

As I drove home after picking up my kids that day, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages in Scripture: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

“Bear with one another…and above all, clothe yourselves with love…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:12-17)

I made a mental note to remind myself of these verses when I get in the car. Because although I can’t control how someone responds to me, my actions toward them can definitely speak volumes.

And what I hope my actions speak is compassion, kindness, patience and love.

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Kari van Wakeren is a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria. She can be reached at and blogs at