A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Last week I was in a difficult position. I got a nasty IM from someone about not following through on something I had been asked to do, but I had. They had neglected to give me some much needed pertinent information that I was waiting for to complete the task.
My first thought was to respond with an equally nasty IM. But what happens when you do something like that? You're just stirring up a fire that will consume you both.
I thought about this post that I read on MaryBeth Whalen's website and in that moment I was reminded about the Law of the Garbage Truck.
Law of the Garbage Truck
One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport
We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.
My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.
My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly.
So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'
This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call,'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'
He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run aroundfull of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment.
As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally.
Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.
The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.
I am ashamed to say that I don't always react this way, but I am trying. In today's society, most of us carry around so much stress. We are often overwhelmed and overburdened.
But on that day, I responded by asking her politely for the missing information and assuring her that I would take care of it immediately. Sure enough later in the afternoon, we had a moment to chat. She apologized for harshness earlier and then told me of an issue she was struggling with. And I was thankful that I had allowed her to "dump" some of her garbage on me.
I'll still be the first to admit that I often come unglued. If you struggle with this like I do, Lysa Terkeurst has written a wonderful book that debuts today.