On Driving and Unsurpassable Worth

by Tara Livesay on July 29, 2013

Jesus said things.

‘Love your neighbor’,

‘Love one another’,

‘Love your enemies’.

As we go about our day in the capital city of Port au Prince, we are frequently given a chance to demonstrate a higher level Jesus-variety-type of love.  In the reverse we are given a chance to be an overtly aggressive giant ass that makes the local population shake their head in disgust.

In full disclosure, I fear that I must admit that the latter is more my natural bent. I don’t stay a demonstrator of high-level love when sitting with a steering wheel in my hands. Jesus didn’t specifically say, “Love the guy shoving his car up into yours making it impossible to move.” But, being a quick study, something tells me that maybe that guy falls under the “love your enemies” heading. I don’t know about you, but I feel like my enemies multiply in developing world traffic gridlock.

These things happen, then more of these things happen:

  • While in sitting-still-traffic, cars and trucks will jam up against you on every side, creating “lanes” where a lane-never-once-existed or even thought about existing.
  • Three inches between cars all headed the same direction is not seen as worrisome to most drivers in Port au Prince.
  • Brushing driver-side mirrors with oncoming traffic is not uncommon or worth talking about.
  • While you wait to turn left, in what is theoretically the only left turn lane, someone will come up on the left (technically in the lane of oncoming traffic) to turn left to the left of you. (That is not to say that someone won’t also turn left from the right side of you.)
  • As you approach a line up of traffic and cars not moving, cars from behind you will come around you on either side of you and try to get into the standing still line before you.
  • Slow down to be polite to someone turning into your lane or direction of traffic, the car behind you will honk and be annoyed with you for not jamming up against the next car ASAP like the rest of the insane world.
  • When the intersection is complete grid lock and there is literally ZERO movement in any direction, save the wind, a giant blaring MAC truck horn will blow unceasingly. (Because that’s helpful.)
  • None of this is forbidden. There aren’t really “rules” per se. There are a few intersections in the city that are notoriously ridiculous. 
Between that sort of nonsensical driving, too many cars on very rough, insufficient roads, and many hours spent in those conditions on certain days, it can sometimes cause a person to feel enraged. I’m telling you, it is challenging. Perhaps this does not resonate with some expats or Haitians, but we have found one of the very hardest places to keep Jesus in our mind and actions and words – is from behind the wheel on the roads of Port au Prince. A patient person becomes impatient. A mellow and happy person becomes quite irritable.

My better half, Troy, starts out as a more cool-headed driver than I do; no news flash there. Driving makes me agitated. I try not to go far very often. My over-developed sense of justice just cannot take it. I am very much a “lets take turns and be fair” kind of person and the lack of polite turn taking pushes every hideous button in my soul.

When I do drive I have to talk to myself about it first. I need to say things like, “It doesn’t matter that it is not fair.  It doesn’t matter if someone is rude. Your job is to be polite and calm.” Some days are really okay and I might not even get annoyed.  On a really good day it is all funny and entertaining. On a bad day it feels like everyone is trying to crash into my precious children and it is harder to keep from muttering curse words at the idiocy of it all while employing the “if I cannot beat em, I’ll join em strategy”. It’s madness I tell you.

Recently Troy and I were together at an intersection that was meeting every single qualification for high level annoyance. It was the type of annoyance that can quickly morph into anger. Troy was driving. I was the passenger. As the less refined driver, I was watching him closely. It was truly everything I described in the list above. Troy kept making sweeping arm motions toward other drivers while saying out loud, “unsurpassable worth” –  “unsurpassable worth” – “see there? unsurpassable worth!”  – as jack-asses plowed into the intersection from every which way causing the already difficult situation in that intersection to become more chaotic, more ridiculous.

I was impressed that the statement itself seemed to calm my annoyance from the passenger seat. I accused him of showing off and being uber-spiritual but he said, no, it is important for him to actually think those words. He needs to literally remind himself of that in order to keep from getting very angry at times.I think I’ll try this the next few times I come up against insanity on the roads to find out if it works. I also think I’ll try it when I read the news, or see friends fighting about politics or whatever-thing on Facebook, or when someone lies to me, or steals or cheats.

Annoyed with someone?  Repeat after me: Unsurpassable worth, unsurpassable worth… Unsurpassable worth. Fine, be annoyed … but if keeping the annoyance from turning to rage or bad behavior is a sub-goal of yours, just try it with me. Jesus told us each and every one has unsurpassable worth; that all alone they are worth the price He paid.

Yes, even drivers in Haiti. 

Tara Livesay – works with women (and drives) in Port au Prince, Haiti
Blog: Livesayhaiti.com    Twitter: @TroyLivesay
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Tara Livesay

Tara and her family have lived in Haiti since 2006. She resides in Port au Prince, where she serves as a CPM (Midwife) with Heartline Ministries - Maternity Center working in the area orphan prevention, Maternal and Newborn Health. Tara is a the wife of Troy, the mother of seven children ranging in age from 27 to 9 years old and has recently become a grandmother to 3 grandsons. Tara enjoys friends, laughing, sarcasm and spending time with her family.

Previous post:

Next post: