I saw those two eyes glare at me from behind the glass. I stopped. I rolled down the window.
“Let me ask you something: what is the speed limit in this garage?” the police officer said in a serious, loud and intimidating voice from his SUV.
“Ummm… five… ten?” I replied in a quiet, nervous tone.
“Well it’s five, and you were going way over it! You’re gonna hit another car if you keep going that fast!” he continued.
I honestly didn’t think I was turning the corner of the garage that fast. I froze.
“I’m sorry…” I said as I put my head down.
“And turn your headlights on too so others can see you,” he said.
“Okay,” I said quietly.
“Well have a good day,” he said in a stern tone and then sped away.
It was a Thursday morning, and I was making my usual commute to campus in order to get to my 8:30 class. Although after looking back on the whole situation, I realize that it was not a big deal at all, I still however remember my immediate reaction in the moment. In that moment, I was furious. I was nervous. I was caught off guard. I was scared. I was sensitive. I was just plain frustrated.
In my head, I started to curse off that officer. Why do the policemen on this campus always have to be so darn nasty when they speak to others? Don’t they know that people, students especially, make mistakes? Heck, all police officers must be on some type of power trip. Who do they think they are?!? Then, a random thought instantly came into my head:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
No joke. I literally heard these words while I was in the middle of my fit. However, since I am just a human who struggles with a fleshy nature, I started to question and defy these words. God, how can I give thanks in this situation? That officer was clearly being disrespectful! I’m not in the mood to deal with this. I have a presentation and a long, busy day ahead of me. I cannot rejoice in this, God. I just cannot. I know I didn’t get a ticket, and yes, I should be thankful for that, but I still am offended and shaken up. That man is a jerk! And I am not thankful for that! He should be called out on his disrespectful tone! God, why did this have to happen today? After all, how can one even rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances anyways? It’s impossible! It’s preposterous!
I parked my car and got out. I walked down the stairs of the garage, with the words “give thanks in all circumstances” literally ingrained in my mind. They would not leave my brain!
I call these moments “God whispers.” No, I am not some psycho-crazy person (although my mom and a few of my closest friends might think that lol). No, I do not hear an actual voice speak to be out of the open blue. Rather, God gives me certain thoughts that just stick in my mind and inner core. No matter what I do, I just can’t get rid of such thoughts. That’s how I know He is speaking to me. That’s how I know He is trying to make a point to me. And yes, He was definitely trying to prove something through the whole situation that morning!
He’s been telling me not to let stress get the best of me. Stress: it’s something we all deal with every single day. (My dad used to say, “If you’re not stressed about something, well then you’re not alive.” And he has a point: the only time we will not experience any kind of stress whatsoever is in Heaven with God.) Unfortunately stress sometimes gets the very best of us: we are less patient, more tired, anxious, and sensitive, and we are even more likely to say irrational things in the heat of a stressful moment. And I have been guilty of all these things recently. I have been less patient and more irrational with my family, boyfriend, and friends the last couple weeks. I know it’s wrong to take out my stress on others, but I admit that sometimes I can’t help it. We all do it. Sometimes, I just do not know how to express my stress and anxieties other than by being moody and grumpy with others. I know that it is completely wrong and not how I should act. I know God used the whole incident with the police officer to tell me to be more patient and understanding with others and not to jump down their throats just because I am stressed.
He has been telling me to forgive others who I have been hurt by. Just like I was quick to point my finger at, curse and accuse that police offer, I have also been guilty of doing this with others. Our immediate human nature is to become defensive and point the finger in hostile situations with others, however it is so completely wrong. I’ve been reminded of this: although Jesus had so so so many opportunities to blame, accuse, and put down those who wronged him, he did not. Instead, he loved and forgave them. As a Christian, Jesus is my number one role model, and I know I should do the same. I admit, over the past year, I have harbored some real negative sentiments towards a few people of my past that have just festered in my brain and inner core. I have criticized, looked down on, talked negatively about, and pointed my finger directly at them. God has been telling me to surrender my pride and forgive them. He told me that He cannot forgive me if I do not first forgive them. So, although it was extremely difficult, I surrendered and forgave them. And man have I been set free from hostility, anxiety, anger, and a whole host of negative emotions! Praise God!
He has also been telling me to get rid of the need to be perfect and not make mistakes. With the whole parking garage situation, the reason why I become so defensive was because I knew I was wrong in the situation. Yes, I was going over the speed limit. The officer had every right to pull me over, and frankly, he had every right to give me a ticket. I just did not want to admit that I was wrong. However, God used this situation to once again, knock down my pride. He told me that we all make mistakes and it is okay. However, it’s all about how we react to it. (And initially, I did not act correctly to the situation.) This whole semester, I have been trying so hard to be the perfect, straight-A student along with the best life group leader, girlfriend, and friend there ever was. I have realized that trying to be perfect in all aspects is just exhausting and stressful. Also, it is simply impossible to be perfect. No one was, no one is, and no one will be, except for Jesus. I have not surrendered my need to be perfect to Him enough. Since my incident, He has taught me to just try my best in every aspect of my life and in glorifying Him in all circumstances. He knows that I am not perfect, but He still loves me so incredibly much, and just knowing this is more than enough.
Lastly, He has been telling me to be more thankful and appreciate the blessings around me instead of dismissing them. He put things into perspective for me: my situation with the policeman was NOTHING compared to the suffering the victims of Hurricane Sandy have had to endure. Some people, and yes I bet some of the people I go to college with, have lost everything in one storm: their homes, loved ones, and over all livelihoods. I should not be complaining at all! No way do I have any right whatsoever! Therefore, I should have been giving so much thanks to God even in that moment of frustration with the policeman. Putting it into that context, I should have had been jumping up and down with joy! Also, I admit that I have not appreciated and encouraged my boyfriend as much as God would want me to. I have been too caught up in my own mind and stress that I have sometimes neglected to just be joyful and thankful when hanging out with him. I have not affirmed him and the gifts God has blessed him with as much as I should have. I know I should praise the Lord for him more often! After all, He has blessed me with such a genuine, beautiful servant of His. I admire my boyfriend so so much for his truly beautiful, kind heart, giving and self-less nature, creative and artistic talent, determination, firm loyalty to what he truly believes in, sharp social and emotional intelligence (and man, is this hard to find in a guy!), and most of all for his incredible, strong relationship with God. Along with God’s help, of course, he truly brings out the best in me. He helps me grow into a better person every single day, even in our tough moments. I would honestly not want to be with any other guy in the world. I love him so much because he loves God with all his heart and God has called me to love and encourage him. Lately, I admit, I have not been doing the best job in carrying out what He has called me to do. However, God brought this all to my attention, and I am so grateful because I know that with His help I can improve! I should smile and give thanks to Him for all the blessings He has given me that I clearly do not deserve.
Yes, it is extremely difficult to be thankful in all circumstances. I know I really fall short of this many times. However, it is extremely important to try your best to be. Too often do we become defensive when we should just put our pride down and admit we are wrong. Too often do we point our finger in disapproval at others who have hurt us when we should forgive them and wish them well. Too often do we complain about our lives, stresses and problems when we should look around and rejoice and be thankful for every good thing we have been blessed with. It’s extremely difficult sometimes, but when we remember how Jesus acted in every circumstance and then pray to God to help us through tough times, we will be blessed. He will help us out of any complicated and stressful situation if we just surrender and ask. Then, we will be able to be thankful and rejoice as we should!
November 23, 2012~ 2:41