How to handle road rage
and the other things that
make us lose our cool
was stuck in a two-mile traffic jam, with my family in the back
seat. Fortunately, we were not in a rush and were chatting as we
waited. A huge Mack truck was directly behind us. For some odd
reason, the driver kept blowing his horn. There was nowhere to go -
traffic was literally parked.
At first, we thought he might have been blowing his horn for kids in
a car nearby. But after another 15 minutes, he kept it up! We
wondered what was going on. But then, as unbelievable as it was -
the truck smashed into us and began to push us off the road. Thank
God I avoided missing the person directly in front of me by inches.
I got out of the car and the truck driver was angry and confused. I
asked him why he had just plowed into my car. He said his anger got
the better of him. It sure did!
Now, my own patience was put to the test. We certainly let the man
know how wrong his actions were, but thank God I was given the grace
at that moment to keep my cool. His own anger was diffused as I
listened to him. The Holy Spirit gives us special graces when we
need them. I needed it right then. The police finally came and took
care of things, and it ended much better than it could have had I
Patience gives us the ability to endure many things. It reveals a
wonderful dimension of selfless love. A patient person is more
interested in the one before him than in his own needs or interests.
Usually we think of patience in opposition to anger. An impatient
person tends to quickly respond to situations in angry ways. We use
phrases like “blew up”, “flew off the handle”, “exploded”; or people
as having “a short fuse” or being “hot headed” to describe a lack of
patience in a person.
Patience is a virtue of the soul. Remember a virtue is a habit of
the heart - a way of thinking and acting in a consistent way that
leads to specific behaviors that reveal Jesus Christ, in whom the
fullness of all virtues reside.
St Paul reminds us all that “Love is patient and kind.” (1 Cor 13:4)
Patience and many other virtues will grow in us as we love, for love
exercises these virtues.
I knew of a woman who took care of her husband for many years as he
suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. She had to keep her eye on him
all the time, for he might decide to go out in the neighborhood for
a walk and forget where or who he was. Each day brought new
challenges. It was difficult, but she knew it was so important for
her to fulfill her vows - “I promise to be true to you in good times
in bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death
do us part.” One day, her husband got into some magazines and books
that she had arranged and really made a mess of them. She got angry
with him, then left the room to cool off. Her husband wandered in
and said, “Oh there you are, my dear. It is so good to see you. Hey,
if you go into the den, be careful. There is a strange woman in
there, and boy is she mad.”
She was immediately hit with a sense of his love for her. What a
humorous way to be reminded of the importance of patience. Her
husband did not recognize her as the “angry” woman. He knew and
remembered her as the woman who was patient.
Patience allows us to endure all the little inconveniences of life,
and the difficult suffering that can come our way. No wonder there
is the expression “he has the patience of Job!” Job was a man who
suffered greatly. He lost all his family, his possessions and even
his health. He was tempted to curse God and die. There are times
when life presents horrible situations to us that would move us to
being angry with God or others. How can a person endure except by
God’s grace and love?
I got a call one day from the hospital of one of our parishioners.
Their teenage son had just died from a rare form of encephalitis. He
was probably bitten by a mosquito. He had been fine in the morning,
but later that day he died. Many would be tempted to lose faith and
turn away from God. Many would be tempted to be angry with God. Who
could blame them? Martha and Mary seemed a little more than upset
with Jesus when they sent word that Lazarus was ill and Jesus did
not come. “If only you had been here Lord, our brother would not
have died!” Anger often is present when tragedy strikes. In the case
of the family who lost their son, they did struggle, but worked
through their loss and anger.
What do we do if we recognize impatience within us? What if we have
lost all patience with God, self or others? We want change and we
want it now! Recognizing the anger and impatience within us can
begin our inner healing. Our hearts need healing. What expectations
do we carry within us about God, self or others? Maybe we need to
adjust our expectations? If we find ourselves mad, hurt and
disappointed with God, self or others, we must cry out. We surrender
ourselves to God who knows our hearts and our pain. Remember how the
Father sent his only son to us with great love, as a perfect gift,
and we sent Jesus back to the Father, rejected and crucified. The
Father allowed his only beloved Son to suffer and die on the cross.
The Father understands the pain of devastating loss. Give it to him.
We cannot bury and hide it from the Lord anyway! God knows our
Patience draws strength from the virtues of faith and hope as well,
for patience always believes that God will make all things well in
the end. Patience leads a person to inner peace.
| Spiritual Exercise Praying for the gift of paitence
This month, pray for the gift of patience. Be ready, for you
might find yourself in a storm! In my life, I have noticed that
when I ask for a gift, often a situation stands before me that
will directly call that gift forth. For example, in praying for
I might end up in many situations that directly test my
patience. Look at them all as great opportunities that are full
of God’s help. One old saying is that “God does not give us
anything more than we can handle.” Another way of looking at it
is that God gives us the grace we need to handle whatever
situation arises! One help to receiving patience is to recognize
the opportunities one has to being patient. So, for the first
1 Ask yourself what circumstances you face daily that test
your patience. If another party is involved, sometimes we
just look at them as the problem. Indeed, they may have a
problem, but if we are not patient with them, so do we. How do
you normally act? What would patience look like in your
circumstance? Talk to the Lord about it. When you pray, think of
Jesus. Think of his patience. How patient is the Lord in dealing
with us! Make a decision to act patiently with others and
2 At the end of the day, reflect on how well you did.
When during the day were you patient or not? What can you learn
about yourself through your impatience? What kind of
expectations do you have concerning yourself or others? How
patient do you believe God is?
Email questions and comments to: