15 November 2013

The (Road) Rage Within

If you drove by me on the streets of Seoul, I'm pretty sure you'd appreciate my courtesy. I let people cut in, I stop for pedestrians, and I swerve around the ever-present curbside vehicle with hazard lights flashing. However, if you were in the car with me, I'm actually certain you would be appalled at the built up rage in one so calmly turning the wheel.

The rules here are different. The traffic laws are optional, and the drivers go forward--paying no heed to anyone beside or behind them. This is how it was for generations before I timidly started driving in this big city.

I may never get used to driving in Asia, but that's not the fault of the Asians.

So as I spoke out (again) to the man that almost hit my car, I felt conviction point the finger back at me. Then I realized it. That man was probably sitting in his car without a clue that he'd offended me. He could be tapping his fingers to music or daydreaming or eagerly anticipating the reunion with family when he reached home. But he surely wasn't thinking of me.

But me on the other hand--I was sitting in my car fuming about him. Who was in the wrong here?

Then the conviction deepened further, causing pain.

I'm not only like this on the road. I do it with my face too. Sometimes, I'm upset or embarrassed or angry but hide it all behind a smile and carefree behavior. Inside, again, I'm fuming . . . and the sin is mine. While there is a time and place for confrontation, there isn't room for hypocrisy. There isn't a clause that allows bitterness.

My culture clashes on the road need to end. I need to remind myself that I am the foreigner and my ways are not better--just different. I've got to let it go.

Similarly, my tendency to internalize emotions and hold them with a fierce grip needs to end. I need to let it go or let it out. (And this is where the analogy breaks down. I cannot "let it out" on the road!) A happy face is no substitute for sincerity, just as courtesy is nothing without respect.


  1. Totally relating, and still learning to resist anger when it comes to facing cultural differences. It's tough, though, because living and working in a foreign country makes it impossible to avoid situations that highlight cultural differences on a daily basis. It's so frustrating and exhausting to deal with conflicts that arise daily because of these differences and ultimately, because of my unwillingness to swallow my pride. Prayerfully, and in time, I'll be able to thank God for the cultural diversity (instead of complain about it) since He's the One who created it in the first place.

    1. You're right. It's not as if we've never faced conflict before, but being confronted with it so frequently and so blatantly is something unique to living in a foreign culture. I'm also praying that God will increase my appreciation for diversity more and more and more! I hope things become easier for you with time and God's help.


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