Yes, you read that right.
An old man hit me with his walker.
I’m not sure there could be a more humbling encounter. But I’ve come to terms with it and was inspired to share…
So what had happened was 😉 I was biking in Copenhagen and we have these fancy bike lanes all throughout the city. I have a huge fondness of these bike lanes because I can ride my bike through out the entire city without the fear of being run over by a car. To take a left, one must not enter into traffic with the cars, but instead, cross the road and enter into the bike lane going in the desired direction.
As you can see from the above picture, there is a “right” place to wait for the traffic signal to turn green. There was not enough space for me to wait in front of the crosswalk, so I lazily chose to wait in the crosswalk.
That’s right, I admit it. I blocked the sidewalk. So shoot me.
Actually, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. It wasn’t a pedestrian-heavy street so I didn’t even think about it. I was merely commuting, probably thinking about the next thing on my calendar.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I got hit in the side of my bike. I was a little shocked because I didn’t realize what was happening until I looked over and saw an old man, ramming me with his walker. I looked around because as seconds went by, I realized this wasn’t an accident but an intentional hit to my bike… and my pride. The puzzled look on my face invited his further harassment of my sheer negligence.
“THE CROSSWALK IS FOR PEDESTRIANS, NOT BIKERS!” Yelled the man in Danish. (Thank you shopping streets for helping me to understand “pedestrian” in Danish).
“Oh! I’m so sorry! It’s because I came from that direction and didn’t think about where to wait” Said in not-so-coherent Danish.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER! YOU EITHER NEED TO WAIT IN FRONT OF THE CROSSWALK OR BEHIND THE CROSSWALK! THE CROSSWALK IS FOR PEDESTRIANS!” He yelled.
“I’m really sorry!” I said, praying for the light to turn green so I could get the heck out of there (conflict-avoider? I think so.)
Now the real question: Was he right? Of course he was. I was clearly blocking the crosswalk. I was being negligent. I used to have a roommate who was a law student and it is very clear to me how much trouble one could get into (in the USA, of course) because of negligence.
Now the next question: Did he really have to hit me with his walker? No, he didn’t. But best believe I will NEVER block the sidewalk again. He made his point.
I biked on in dismay. Partly because I want to believe I do my best to be considerate of others and not make their life an inconvenience. But also because I could not believe he hit me with his walker! “The nerve of that guy.” I thought. “He was right but he could have just told me, he didn’t have to hit me!” My thoughts were all over the place. While I was bothered by his delivery, what most stuck out to me was, “Wow, what an unhappy man. I don’t want to get bitter like that.”
I thought about it a little more and I could easily recall many…um…”older” people in my life. They seem to be either extremely happy or extremely grumpy. I decided I want to be happy. But what does that mean I should do? The following scripture gets the process going:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
When I was single, I always thought of this scripture in regards to guarding my heart from falling in love too easily. For example, if I get too excited about a relationship and get “heart-broken,” that’s not a place I want to be. So after I got married (lucky girl) I started to ignore this scripture. But after “the crosswalk incident” I realized how important it is that we guard our hearts! For me, I need to guard my heart from my own bad thoughts.
Now, those bad thoughts could be anything. They could be negative thoughts about myself and others. They could be grudges I hold. They could also be affections I have upon the wrong objects! I was convicted while reading Matthew Henry’s commentary on this scripture:
Our lives will be regular or irregular, comfortable or uncomfortable according as our hearts are kept or neglected.
So now what? My thoughts can be so hard to control! Is anyone like me? I know it’s a choice where I allow my thoughts to go but it seems like only God has the power to help me take them captive. Luckily, he promises such power.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
What a great promise! The peace of God (that I will never be able to understand) will guard my heart and mind. All it takes is two things:
1. Pray in every situation.
2. Give thanks.
I am definitely the type of person who when told not to think of the pink elephant, is currently thinking of the pink elephant. So this above process works for me. If I choose to take captive my thoughts, I need to replace those thoughts with something different. Going through the things I’m thankful for always helps me, and why not do that in prayer?! I once had a “book of gratitude” that I kept at my desk while I worked. Whenever I had a spare moment or was listening to someone complaining on the telephone (I worked for the Senate Democratic Caucus and we weren’t short of angry constituents.), I would write down whatever I was grateful for at that moment.
Recently, for my ninth spiritual birthday, my husband got me another “book of gratitude” which I’ve started to write in Danish (I need positivity while trying to learn this language! Here’s why.)
So to the old man who hit me with his walker:
I’m sorry I blocked the crosswalk and made you go around me. I imagine it’s not very easy to get around these days and the last thing you need is someone making your life more difficult. I’m also sad for all the things that have happened through the years that have contributed to your current disposition in life. Thank you for your reminder to not block the sidewalk and, more importantly, the reminder to guard my heart.