“Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Don’t have anything to do with any kind of hatred. Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive one another, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIRV)
I’d like to share with all of you a recent life lesson that I can imagine all of us need to be reminded of from time to time.
On this very regular day, filled with rushing and frustration, this lesson even helped me to come up with a clever little saying that will help me and my children remember this experience.
“It is Better to Be Better than Bitter.”
So here is the story.
It took place one evening as my kids and I were on our way to Dairy Queen for a treat. Driving there along a very busy street, we got behind a really s…l…o…w driver. (I bet you all know the frustration of this.)
I turned my blinker on to switch lanes and go around the slow vehicle, and immediately the pickup behind me sped up quickly and pulled into the lane right beside me. That pickup proceeded to stay right beside me so that I couldn’t move my position on the road. It was very obvious that the driver was doing this on purpose!
At first I was infuriated! But as we continued on down the road, another spot opened up for me to pass. I took that opportunity, and was then in front of the previously mentioned pickup. We then both proceeded to turn into the Dairy Queen drive-thru, that same pickup behind me.
As I sat in the long line at the drive-thru, with my kids in the vehicle waiting for ice cream, I couldn’t shake the urge to look in the rearview mirror. Every time that I did, I felt sadness for the man driving the pickup. Something inside was telling me that he was having a very bad day.
A desire to do something to spread joy or share a blessing overcame my mind and heart.
So I began telling my kids what had happened, how this vehicle behind us had been “difficult” when we were on the road, and that it appeared that he had been trying to infuriate me.
Then I continued, “And now, he is behind us in line, and I think that he has had a very bad day…..(pause)……And that is why we are going to pay for whatever he ordered when we get up to the window.”
My kids said, “What? He caused you trouble while driving, and now you are going to buy something for him?”
To which I replied, “Yes, I am going to be the better person. It is better to be better than bitter!” My kids were satisfied with that answer.
I, however, didn’t stop thinking about that encounter all evening. The way that my heart and mind were told that man had had a very tough day, and the way that the rationalizing of this situation poured from my mouth to my kids, was certainly orchestrated by God.
In the Bible verse above, Paul is encouraging believers to walk as fruitful followers of Christ and to serve in unity and love, and that is exactly what God prompted me to do that day!
Later that evening, I heard my boys telling some friends about what had happened earlier at Dairy Queen and how they were proud of me. That day, they certainly received the lesson that bitterness gets us nowhere, but love and kindness certainly does!
That is when I realized that I needed to be reminded of that life lesson just as much as they needed an example of it. There is no sense to bitterness. There is nothing good that can come from it. But forgiveness, love, and kindness can change your own day and someone else’s for the better!
So the next time that someone “rubs you the wrong way”—whether it be on purpose or by accident— try to be “Better rather than Bitter.”
Thank God for this reminder, and for the prompt that day to make someone else’s day better!