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Way to go dad! You made Jesus proud!

dad 1-17A

My father is almost 95 years old. He went to the local grocery store. As he was leaving he found the flat crosswalk at the store entrance blocked by a huge pick-up truck that parked illegally right in front of the doors.

My dad saw a man get out of the truck and said to him, “Excuse me, this is a no parking zone. Can you please move your truck so we can safely go around?”

The guy responded, “You just take care of your groceries old man and I’ll take care of how I park.”

My fragile old father was forced to go over a big curb with his shopping cart because the man would not move his truck.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. My egocentric pride reactively thought the same thing.  How dare the man treat my dad so rudely? Who does he think he is? How can anyone behave with such calloused entitlement and

disrespect? Someone ought to teach him a lesson!

However, like my dad, I am grateful to have learned the benefit of behaving differently than the awareness that creates a negative situation.

This hard won soul wisdom of when it’s best to turn the other cheek to avoid ego-boxing with another person’s entitled, arrogant, and irresponsible side, did not come easily. I perfected the art of ego-boxing with others before I woke up to the futility of fighting someone’s self-centeredness with my arrogance.

There were countless times I blindly obeyed my ego’s direction. A stranger was rude and I called him or her on their unconscious behavior. Yet, I honestly admit, never once did someone I chastised acknowledge their behavior. Not one time did anyone express appreciation to me for helping them wake them up to how he or she was behaving unacceptably.

I certainly did not thank the people who called me on my unacceptable actions.  Our first thought when confronted with behaving badly is not to say thank you. Our reactive tendency is to defend ourselves and attack the messenger.

Unless we love ourselves first, by controlling our arrogant, angry, defensive, and unkind side, we will readily abandon our integrity. Without honor and humility to guide our actions arrogance takes over. When conceit and judgment control us we don’t care about our behavior. Our superior and critical side only wants to condemn the behavior of others.

Of course our prideful ego will never condone a passive response to those occasions when we are disrespected. Arrogance and judgment will demand we get in the rude person’s face and let them have a piece of our mind.  Yet, to love Jesus we should decide the action Jesus would take. This requires us to weigh the situation from Christ’s perspective.

I imagine the times Jesus turned the other cheek were on the occasions when he knew it would be impossible to reason with an unreasonable person. He knew it would be pointless to engage with someone who was consumed by their arrogant and controlling side. I think Jesus ran into these people on a regular basis. Just as we do. So, Jesus would not want us to scream at the guy. Which is exactly what our pride wants us to do. Instead, Jesus would encourage us to refuse to engage because in this case the man who was so rude to my dad was just selfish and inconsiderate, not violent or abusive.

In these type irritating, but not physically or verbally abusive situations, Jesus would ask us to lead with the love of our integrity. Jesus would tell us to take a few deep breaths and stop ourselves from reacting.  Christ would question why we would ruin our day ego-boxing with someone who was not behaving responsibly.

There may be some people who think we are weak or a push-over for not engaging with people like the self-centered man in the parking lot.  There are people who say we have to call rude and self-centered people on their behavior. Their is a belief if we don’t speak up how will rude and disrespectful people learn and mend their ways?

Again, Jesus would want us to admit the truth, we cannot influence people who do not find their behavior unacceptable.

The tough-love truth is that no amount of ego-boxing motivates someone to wake up and assume responsibility for how they behave. However, the choice to lower ourselves to the irresponsible behavior of others changes us; and not for the better.

To love ourselves, we remain focused on leading with our integrity, rather than opt to reactively defend our ego’s fragile pride.

My dad was very proud of himself when he told me, “I did not ego-box with him. I just did the best I could to stay safe. I refused to let that rude man upset me.” My 95 year old father walked away having treated the rude man as dad would want to be treated. Way to go dad! You made Jesus proud!