You will not find a "Trump for President" on the back of my car. Don't look for a "Bernie Sanders" one either. You can search my vehicle high and low and you simply will not find a political bumper sticker. You also won't find my alumni stickers from college or grad school. And even though I love the three different schools that my children attend, there are no stickers or magnets on my car to show it. And here's why: Right now there are two things that I find people in Bradenton talking about the most are politics and traffic.
This time of year, especially in an election cycle, I find that rage about both of these issues lies right below the surface. My commute to church each day is a little less than 2 miles. I consider it no small accomplishment to arrive there without accident each morning. Although, so far, I have remain unscathed, like everyone else in this town I am subjected daily to some atrocious driving and probably, on occasion, have been part of the atrocity.
But lately, I find myself so frustrated with the bad driving that my mind wanders into a dark place. If someone cuts me off in traffic and then I am face to face with their bumper stickers, I find myself seeing something on their car that I disagree with and my mind immediately thinks, "oh, that figures!" It's almost as though I have somehow connected the driver's politics or school or interests with their driving ability. And while that may or may not be fair, you are, whether you like it or not, an ambassador of what you choose to advertise on your vehicle.
While this is true for everyone, it is particularly true for those of us in the faith community -- all faiths. Please do not assume that just because someone loves Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed, or thinks that we should all coexist, that they are in any, way, shape, or form a responsible and gracious driver. And should you choose to put a sticker on your car, as an ambassador for your faith, then please remember the mantle that you have taken up when you decide to cross three lanes of traffic without giving a second thought to your blinker or anyone in any of the surrounding lanes.
However, should you choose to continue with your current driving habits and also insist on being an ambassador for your cause or candidate, might I suggest some more truthful bumper stickers: "Jesus loves you. I will cut you off without warning."
"My child is an honor roll student. I failed driver's education."
"A vote for (fill-in-the-blank) will still do nothing to encourage me to use a blinker."
"I stand with Hillary, but I can run through a red light like I'm at a NASCAR race."
"God is watching you. I, however, am pretending to ignore you as you try to pull out onto Manatee Avenue or Cortez Road."
To be fair, it's not just your car that witnesses to your faith. At the post office during Christmas, I witnessed (along with about 20 other people in line) a woman berate and attempt to humiliate a postal worker. When she finally turned to walk away, her shirt revealed in huge letters, the name of her church. Quietly, I thanked the Lord that it wasn't the one I serve. If you are at a restaurant and you are going to pray before a meal, a regular practice of my family that we wholeheartedly endorse, might I also suggest tipping fairly and even generously?
At the end of the day, I might not know your candidate or your school or your religion. Your driving may be the only thing I ever know about you and perhaps, them. What do you want me to know about what you (or they) believe by the way you drive? If we gave a little thought to that question, we might begin to lower the angst on two different issues!
The Rev. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and The Well, can be reached at 941-794-6229, firstname.lastname@example.org or biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.