I had a very unpleasant experience on Sunday. I pulled into an apartment complex and began the search for a parking spot. Most of the parking spots are numbered because they are reserved for residents. There were a few non-numbered spots, but they were taken. The only spot I saw open was a handicapped space which did not have any indication of being reserved for anyone specific, just those who have a legitimate reason to park there, like myself. I pulled into the lines and before I could even turn off my engine I heard a screaming voice.
A man approached my window very upset. He kept repeating that I needed to move my car, that non-residents couldn’t park there and only he had permission to park there. You would have thought he was trying to get out a life or death situation by how worked up he was.
Now, I’ve seen worked up before. I have mentored a few youth who have explosive tendencies and by God’s grace I have developed a patience for this sort of thing. After finishing his rant, I calmly replied “ok.”
He continued his rant, “you need to move your car, you don’t live here” etc. etc. I replied ” I wasn’t sure why he was getting so upset, so I asked. “Because I’m tired of people doing this. I’ve had to fight with so many people about this.” “Well, it looks like just a normal handicapped spot to me,” I said. “It’s not I’ve talked to the management, you can’t do this, you can’t park here, you don’t live here etc etc.” he continued to yell.
By this time, he had called me several expletives. Noticing he was in church clothes, when he paused to take a breathe from being so worked up, I asked him, “Did you even go to church today?” He was apparently on his way and told me he was going to pray for me so that he wouldn’t kick my, well, you know. When it gets to that point, you realize any hope for a logical conversation is void. So, I told him to have a nice day, rolled up my window and moved my car.
Did I have to? I’m not sure. Maybe it is a rule in the apartment complex that those spots are for residents. Does it matter? Not to me. He could have easily asked me to move my car with a level 1 attitude instead of a level 10 and I would have done it just the same. I am so blessed, to be able to walk as well as I can (with the assistance of braces) that not parking in a handicapped spot wouldn’t be detrimental to me.
Ever since this incident people have been telling me what I should do about it. I’m sure it is all well meaning and out of a care for me. Some have suggested to even go so far as to file a police report. Truth is, I probably could have done many things. I could have brought up that he was leaving, so why was he worried about anyone parking in the spot anyway? I could have brought up how fast he was able to walk up to my car and how he had no sign of a physical disability. I saw no handicapped placard or markings on his license plate either. He even brought race into the conversation. He was a black man and he called me white trash, a white honky and threatened to kick my…
But the thing about revenge is, I’m not called to seek it, I’m not called to file complaints, seek reward, entitlement or my own interests.
Jesus reminds us in Luke 6,
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
I should have given this man my spot and helped him bring in his groceries. I should have given him my spot and filled up his gas tank, washed his car, or fulfill whatever need I could find.
This is the radical love of Jesus.
We have become a very entitled people. We are able to write out tweets, status updates and blog posts from our phones and tablets with our very blunt opinions with little repercussion, at least that we can see anyway. This phenomenom has even led to a new version of bullying among youth known as “cyber bullying.” Yet, when this same pride in our opinions and self seeking overflows into the real world we run into a problem; other people. Lack of respect and carelessness may work on the internet but it doesn’t work in real life. Someone is bound to get hurt.
Like I said, I probably could have responded better and I developed more anger myself than I should have, but there is grace for that. Now, I pray (and I hope you will too) that this man will come to know Christ as his savior and that perhaps God will even use me to bring about that. This is our calling; that all, friends and enemies alike, might know Jesus through our actions and words even if it is at the cost of our wants and desires.