We barely embarked on our Spring Break journey from Nebraska to southern Utah when a red warning light came on our car. I discovered that if I slowed down and kept the RPMs under 4000, the light turned off again. So, I cautiously continued driving while doing what I needed to keep that light off.
It was a stressful drive! The first day we drove though windstorms, with gusts above 40 mph that tore across Colorado through the upper Midwest. Then I had to watch for the warning light and RPMs as we drove across the Rocky Mountains.
I often had to drive a bit slower. Not too slow to be unsafe, but slower than I would normally have driven! And just slow enough that if I had been another driver, I might have wondered what the other driver was doing.
It was a relief when we safely made it to Utah and the Toyota dealer was able to easily fix the problem. Our RAV4 had simply been filled with the wrong transmission fluid with recent maintenance.
Another driver wouldn’t have known what was going on with my transmission fluid, nor about the warning light I could see on my dash, nor the variable RPMs I was watching. They wouldn’t know that I have never had to watch this before while driving, and that this was a new and stressful experience.
From the outside, my car looked fine!
We don’t know why another car drives so slowly though the windstorm. Or up the mountain. Or simply along the normal road that seems unimpeded. We can only see our own dashboard, and not inside the other driver’s car.
Isn’t it like this with our lives?
We each have our own experience in the storms and challenges of life, and even in our normal days.
I may know my own body, heart, limitations, and needs.
But I can’t see this for other people! I don’t know what is going on with their dashboard, how their RPMs are or if they have a warning light coming on.
This drive across the country was a wonderful reminder to me to not be quick to judge another person. Not assume their experience is the same as mine. To be curious what might be different in their life than mine, or what I don’t know yet about them.
Maybe the other person has a physical limitation I don’t understand. Maybe they don’t feel good today. Or they are grieving, not at their best, or have a lot on their mind. There are so many possibilities! Their circumstances and resources are certainly different from my own.
Love enables us to draw near to people. Judgement distances us.
Be gently curious and ask.
This attitude of grace changes how we see other people. Our heart posture will help us love the people as we go through this day!
As we do, how can we pray or practically encourage them?
“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Timothy 1:2
As I flipped pages of Paul’s letters to find this verse, I noticed that most of them begin and end with a blessing of grace similar to this. Let’s bookend our lives with grace!
Let’s offer this grace not only to others, but also ourselves.
What we see on our own dashboard is different than what other people see on theirs. Because of this, we can give ourselves grace! Give yourself grace to not compare yourself with others. Live within your limitations and boundaries, seeking to please God in the season of life you’re in.