Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:17-18
It had been one of the most frustrating, soul-draining, and anger-inducing days I have had in a very long time. By the time I was headed home it was 10:30 pm and all I could think about was getting in bed and forgetting this day had ever happened.
I turned into the complex and up my drive to my building. Then I saw it. A big ugly red truck was sitting in my parking space in the carport. I slammed on the brakes, and my car stopped with a surprised squeal. I blinked. Who dared to park in my slot? I got out of the car and scanned the yard. On the second floor, a man sat on the rail talking into his phone.
“Hey! You! Is this your big ugly red truck in my parking space?” I shouted through the darkness. He ignored me. Car running and headlights straining through the misty rain I stomped to the bottom of the staircase and addressed him again.
“Yeah!” He began, his face hidden in the shadows, only the silhouette of a man shouted back to me. “Who says it is your spot?”
“I do!” I felt the fibers of my neck muscles tighten like ropes on the rigging of a ship.
“Apartment office said I could park there.” His voice was deep and leaped from the shadows wrapped in irritated anger.
“Oh no, they didn’t!” The tightness traveled down my spine, and every muscle of my body strained against the confines of my skin.
“Yes, they told me to park there.”
“They might have told you to park in the space at the end of the carport that belongs to your apartment! But no one told you to park in my space.” I leaned forward as if getting closer would give my words more effectiveness.
Swiftly, the silhouette raced to meet me. I felt his heat. He peered at me, the darkened face now divided. Half remained in the shadow and the other lit by the carport light. I did not flinch. He inflated his chest and stood up straight. Unimpressed, I did the same meeting his gaze, eyeball to eyeball.
“I was parking here, and then I parked there, and now they say I can park here!” His voice quavered in restraint.
“I don’t care where you’ve been parking, and I don’t care where they told you to park, you are not parking here!” I punctuated my sentence with my finger at my spot that had been my car’s bedroom for eighteen months. My camp chairs set outside my door. I have a wreath on the door. I sit there to watch the rain. I chat with my friends in that space. I pay for the right to park under the carport, right here. I had no intentions of backing down. This was my spot and I would have it.
He repeated his litany of parking history. I cut him off, “I do not care where you park, but you will not park here.”
It was in that moment that I saw it in the corner of my eye, just to the right of his shoulder, a disembodied face. It shimmed white in the light of the street lamp, burning eyes staring at me. Who was that? My mind questioned. Then I knew, I recognized that face, though distorted through the darkness, it was me. Shame, like cold sweat, engulfed me. Silence except heavy breathing. Was it me or him? Seconds felt like days as I stared at the reflection. I stepped back, a pinch of guilt in my belly, the face melted.
“Listen.” I said softly, my eyes downcast. “I am sorry. I should have never yelled at you or behaved like that. I am truly sorry, and I apologize. It has been a horrible day. However, that is no excuse.” I lifted my eyes to meet his.
He stared back at me, his face contorted in confusion. He softened, and the hardness of his mouth relaxed. He cleared his throat. “I am sorry too. I will get my keys and move it. I knew you had been parking there.”
“No,” I said, “I can park on end, not a big deal.” Within I laughed, it sure was a big deal 30 seconds ago I chided myself. “And I sincerely apologize.”
He gave a small smile. “Well, you’ve had a horrible day.”
“I bet you did too,” I said as I turned away to park my car.
We have a responsibility to control ourselves and to treat others with respect. Unfortunately, our society has begun a rapid break down. People do not respect themselves, and therefore, they are unable to respect others. No matter what kind of day I may have had, nor how tired I am, I have no right to mistreat another person. When I saw my reflection, I was immediately ashamed of my behavior. As a Christian responsible for living a life that reflects Christ, it was in that face on the surface of the window; I realized that my reflection was not of Jesus.
Reflect His Peace.
Typist of Jesus