Or, to be less opaque, what would Jesus do and what did I actually do?

It’s been a bit of a busy and tiring week, and by Friday I was really feeling it.  Our daughter had come into our bed in the wee small hours (tossing and turning the rest of the night and keeping me – but not her dad, weirdly, awake) and then woke up really early.  So I’d not had anything like enough sleep by the time Friday morning came.  At work we were taking something like 80 people away on a day trip.  The weather was pretty mixed for a trip to a primarily outdoors venue, but it was okay and we had a busy and interesting day.  That said, on the way back to our centre I kept on drifting off to sleep, which wasn’t great as I was meant to be the person supervising the children in the minibus!  Although they were all tired too, so there wasn’t too much trouble to negotiate, thankfully.

Anyway, back at the centre, day just about done, I got into my car and drove home.  It was hot and sticky, and although the journey only takes about 40 minutes, I could really feel my general lack-of-sleep-ness kicking in, so I gratefully parked my car in it’s usual spot around the corner from our home, and got out to lock it up.  I’d noted a man running across the road to get into his little Ka which was parked in front of mine, but nothing was particularly noteworthy about that.  Man gets in car. So far, so unextraordinary.

Then, as I was standing beside my car locking it up, I registered someone shouting, although initially I couldn’t make out what was being said or where the voice was coming from.  Then I could make out the words: “Thanks for parking so f***ing close to my car!”.  Then I noticed the man in the Ka in front peering at me in his wing mirror and realised he was doing the shouting, and he was shouting at me! 

Even this took a moment to register because (and he shouted the same thing a couple of times more while my brain creaked to take in what was going on – I was tired, remember) I had parked a perfectly reasonable distance behind him, he hadn’t actually reversed his car and there was plenty of room for him to do so.  There was also plenty of space in front of him.  So I stood there looking dim and utterly speechless trying to process what on earth he was talking about.  He then called me a really insulting name and swiftly drove his car out of the (very easy to get out of, as he’d just proved) space and away into the distance, while I stood , still motionless and speechless, trying to figure out what had just happened.  The whole ‘incident’ last about 30 seconds, if that. 

It was really bizarre, and quite upsetting.  Anyway, being the classic passive-aggressive that I am I naturally spent the next 20 minutes trying and failing to come up with clever/cutting/getting-to-the-heart-of-the-matter responses.  I have to say when I first registered that he was talking to me I was about to offer to move my car (to where? How far would he have deemed a reasonable distance?  And as it turned out why, since he was clearly able to get out of the space with no undue exertion?).  And a split second later I felt afraid, worried that such anger could lead to a nastier situation altogether.  It was no small relief that he drove away so quickly.

Why was he so angry about such a non-situation?  In fact he’d brought anger and grievance into a situation where there was nothing to be angry about and no grievance to be had.  Why would a person choose to behave to someone, to a complete stranger, in that way?  I can’t imagine ever EVER doing anything similar, it’s such a peculiar way to behave.

Anyway, back to my original questions.  WWJD has become almost a cliche now, but it’s still a great question for a Christian to ask themselves, and as I reflected on my own non-response at the time and the emotional responses I had later, it was the question that kept coming back to me.

Would Jesus have seen a man hurting, and like when he met the woman at the well, known just what to say to get to the heart of the situation?  Would he have approached the man, without fear and full of grace, to reproach him without words through his own kindness and understanding?  Would he have walked away afterwards feeling pity and pain for someone who could not manage to live at peace in the world? 

I know my own response was dull, passive, and later full of bitterness and confusion.  I have a long way to go.

I don’t know the man’s name, and to be honest I hope I never encounter him again.  But I hope whatever is causing him to live with such anger is resolved.

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