In the past few weeks I’ve found myself in the same kind of driving situation several times. It seems whenever I’m about to change lanes there’s been a car in that next lane which has sped up to make sure I couldn’t get over. You know that moment when a driver zooms from behind closing off any opportunity or gap for your vehicle. We all know it’s kind of that driver’s prerogative, but it’s also kind of impolite.
It’s not like I’m trying to cut a line or cut anyone off or anything like that. I’m talking about just a simple tap of my blinker and a clear intention to move on over. Nothing fast or furious or frantic. Nothing exceptional. Nothing exciting. Nothing extra at all. Just an attempt to change my lane. And yet, lately, time after time, the message has been clear: No way, lady. Not today. There’s no room for you here in my lane. MY. Lane.
Today that streak changed when a kind driver in the next lane and slightly behind, slowed down and, with a smile, waved me right over. He welcomed me into his lane. And what a difference that made. I immediately felt my mood lighten and my stress level lower. It changed everything when someone made room for me.
Because, it does change everything when we make room for others.
Driving or living or any-thing.
I know this is a simple little thing that happens a million times a day for a million types of people. But I guess because of my unfortunate personal string of lane changing attempts, it kind of felt like a big deal this afternoon.
I’m pretty sure the man who smiled and waved me over had no idea the impact he made on me. And that’s when the deeper piece of this hit me—so often we don’t. We don’t always realize how our little interactions and tiny gestures of kindness can sometimes lead to a much bigger impact.
Of course driving is just one such situation. But it immediately makes me think of anytime we slide over and make room for someone. In our lane or at our lunch table. The place doesn’t much matter, but the grace of it surely does.
We all know how it feels to be told in words or, better yet, body language, “Sorry, there’s no room for you here.” Most of us have been on both sides of that message. We’ve been the ones to relay it as well as the ones to receive. Neither truly makes anyone feel very good.
I know it’s sometimes even easy to justify the lines we draw—
Sorry, there are only 6 seats in the car. Sorry, there are only 10 chairs at the table. Sorry, only 5 spots or 4 slots or 3 tickets or 2 pieces. Yes, I know sometimes we do have to draw a line and we can’t include everyone who asks every time. But I’m not really talking about those times as much as the ones where it just requires us to move over, to make room, to pull up another chair, to find another way. To include. To invite. To embrace.
My kids have been on both sides. I’ve seen it play out in their childhoods and teenage years over and over. Either way, I marvel at the opportunity lost when we don’t make room for others. When we don’t invite others in to our circles whatever those circles might be. So often they lose. We lose.
Earlier this month a group of my girlfriends attended a concert together. The concert (Maverick City Music) was AH-MAZING, but perhaps the thing which amazed me most about the night was finding out that the girlfriend who purchased all of the tickets for us, also chose to purchase an extra ticket. She told me she always does this. It’s her thing. Whenever she buys tickets for a group of her friends or those of her kids, she buys one more than what is needed. She went on to explain she does this because there’s always someone else who wants or needs to be there. Always someone who God kind of lays on her heart to include. She plans for it. She plans to make room for someone extra. But wait!--shouts my practical voice--concert tickets are expensive. Absolutely they are. But, a gracious including, wouldn't you agree, well, that is priceless. I’ve never once thought to purchase an extra ticket to anything. But she has been doing it consistently for years and isn't that so crazy beautiful?
The word is grace. There’s a beautiful kind of grace when we make space for someone who needs a spot.
Concert tickets. Seats at the table. Lane changes.
I guess it gives us something to think about.
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me." ~ Matthew 25:40