Yesterday, as I sat in traffic near the children’s hospital, heading to Elijah’s CT scan, I remembered a minor event that happened last month when I was leaving the same hospital. It is really insignificant, but it stuck with me due to the range of emotions it provoked, from anger to embarrassment to humility.
I had spent an extremely long and stressful day at the hospital for Elijah’s PET and CT scans, followed up by a clinic visit. Elijah had been denied food for 9 hours, the procedures took longer than desirable, and I was frustrated with some pre-test issues. By the end of the day I was worn, yet ecstatic about the fantastic test results. I was parked in the bowels of the garage with no cell phone signal and itching to share the news with Brian and the grandparents and family who were waiting and praying for good news. Having also not eaten all day, I was shaky with hunger and wanted to bee-line for the nearest drive through.
I emerged from the garage and dialed Brian as I meandered the van toward the rear of the hospital’s extensive property. I came to a small intersection and stopped at the red light. Seeing a break in traffic approaching, I began to creep into a right turn. The vehicle I was waiting on slowed down and a woman began squawking something at me through her window and waving her arms. I looked around in an attempt to decipher her beef with my actions, trying not to stew too much about the unfriendly communication. I noticed a “No turn on red” sign, but I had committed to the turn. Nothing came of it, but I replayed it in my head a number of times.
Yes, there was plenty I could have done more sensibly in that scenario. I could have parked and made my phone calls either before or after my meal. I could have paid better notice to the traffic signs. My nearly-delusional hunger and excitement were at odds with each other, so I was embarrassed to be technically in the wrong. But, I was also angry at her self-righteous insensitivity. That doesn’t make any sense, I know. She couldn’t possibly have known that at that very moment, I was exhaling a breath I’d been holding for a year, that I was rejoicing in the wholeness of a son I could have lost. I’m sure in her mind she was being a dutiful citizen.
The point is, none of us knows what the stranger next to us is going through. People, unfortunately, make mistakes because their focus isn’t in the moment where it “should” be. However, this scenario reminded me to be merciful regarding people I might have an urge to judge. It also occurred to me that although laws (or opinions, beliefs, etc) are necessary and valuable, sometimes they aren’t the most important piece of the puzzle in a given moment. Sometimes a person needs love above correction, and it takes an intentional eye and a discerning heart to spot those opportunities. Instead of Red Light Ladies, we could use more crossing guards.