There is a meme on facebook, a video of a Mom in her car telling a story. She was in a coffee drive through, and at the same time the car ahead of her moved forward, she bent down and reached back to pick up a toy her young daughter had dropped. In that moment of mothering, the car behind her began to honk, and the driver was yelling and gesticulating angrily. Apparently, our storytelling Mom hadn't moved forward in a way that made sense to the car behind.
The mother in the video is funny. And real. She goes on to say that she was aware of the anger in the person behind her, and she new going back to talk to the person would be awkward. So instead, she just pulled up to the window and paid for the coffee of the person behind her. A kind act. An act of seeing. She drove off. The two women didn't get out and exchange phone numbers becoming besties. There was no opportunity for the mom to be thanked or recognized. Her message to us watching this video was to be compassionate to those who are acting in alarming ways, because we just don't know the day, the life, the moment they are having.
As a lifelong participant in the christian church, I have been conditioned to identify with the woman making the video. To be the one who buys the coffee for the rude person. To be the one who offers compassion or grace or care. I'm glad for that upbringing which is steeped in my bones.
But today, I'm feeling with the woman in the rear car. The one who is honking, yelling, making gestures of anger....because someone didn't inch forward soon enough.
Are you her? Are you angry? Angry enough to honk and yell?
Life piles shit upon us, sometimes at speeds so swift that we cannot catch up. Cannot take a breath. Cannot form the words. We feel the victim, the loser, the wounded. We want to be noticed in our pain.
We want to be noticed in our pain.
So we honk. Or we over care in hopes that people will give to us the way we are giving to them. Or we yell and angrily raise a fist....with an unspoken hope that someone will put a slowing hand on our shoulder and say "Hey, what is going on?"...because without breath, without words, we can't say it to ourselves.
We can get so caught in fear of bills unpaid, or the violence of a relationship, or the pain of being overlooked, or the worry of our bodies falling aparat.....and we don't have the words to say help.
Our outburst sound one way.
Our posture and hand gestures look one way.
Our words express something one way.
But we really are meaning something another way.
We mean to say help.
I think that if you know someone who is honking for help, help them. Connect them to a spiritual director or a counselor or a massage therapist. Do it right there with them. All you have to say is "Here, let's get you connected. I'll do it for you." Whip that phone out and make an appointment for them.
Sometimes, just making the appointment is like a balm to the bruise.
If you have enough in you that you are not honking in the drive through but are pounding the steering wheel instead...directing your anger at yourself....make the appointment. Pay for someone to listen to you with skill and total attentiveness. Once you've regained a bit of equilibrium, call a friend and let them listen in to your pain too. They'll want to. You're worth it.
Spiritual Direction is not counseling, but it is that balm, that relief, that steam valve that needs to be opened for the pent up toxic energy to hiss out from within. It is help.