I have a daily commute to New York City, arguably the busiest, most congested place on the planet during rush hour. Over the past few years of this grind I have seen a bit of everything; fights at the bus station, subway arrests, psychotic meltdowns, extreme rudeness, and much more. Once I watched in disbelief as a road-rager told a special needs bus driver to do profane things to her mother, just because she was trying to merge into the next lane of traffic. *Sigh*
Being exposed to this type of hostility on a regular basis can do one of two things; either it will absorb and poison your spirit, or it will give you a clearer sense of empathy. As a matter of survival, I have to choose empathy.
Every person who has been, currently is, or will be on this Earth will go through trials and difficulties. A life fully lived will inevitably incur strife of some sort. People may hurt you, you may get sick, you may lose your job, your lover may leave, you may be financially distressed, you may have lost a loved one, you may be overwhelmed with responsibilities... the list can go on forever. We are ALL going through something. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. The problem comes when negative experiences and attitudes affect how we interact with the world around us. The bus driver was just trying to get the children to school safely, not incur the wrath of someone who was probably upset before she even arrived at the intersection. The two men fighting at the bus station for their place in line probably had a rough day at work and just wanted to hurry home to their families (we all did).
So what is the solution? Once you understand that displacement is real and that someone's bad behavior probably has nothing to do with you, the better off you will be. Instead of being retaliatory, take a step back and realize that this is your opportunity to exercise empathy. Don't take it personal. What that person may need most is a smile and a kind word. Romans 12:15 says for us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn," meaning, try to understand what others may be going through.
Send positive thoughts their way. Pray for them, because one day you may be the one in need of prayer.
Don't take it personal.