Passing with care


By Jenna Ebener
A Reflection

I recently passed a street sign that said “pass with care.” I have passed similar signs dozens if not hundreds of times before, yet this time it took on a new meaning for me. In our broken world, how often do we truly “pass with care?” Taken at face value, how often do we pass other motorists while being mindful not only of our well-being but theirs as well? Yes, we want to be mindful to avoid getting into an accident, but let’s take this mindfulness to the next level. How often are we making snap judgements about the person we are passing or the person who may be passing us? Do we pause to consider what is going on in our lives that is increasing our need to get to our destination quickly? Do we ponder what might be going on in the person’s life who just cut us off and wish them well? Or do we get stuck in negative beliefs about others, which then shapes the rest of our day? Do we pass others with care on and off the road?

It is so easy to get sucked into our harsh world of judgments and comparison. It is so tricky to even know we are stuck when we have been there for a long time. Have you ever noticed that if you touch something long enough and stay still, you no longer seem to feel it? As I pet my dog the other day, I eventually lay still next to him and just rested with my hand on his side. At first, I luxuriated in the softness of his fur but after a few minutes of not moving, I realized I could not feel that softness anymore. A similar thing can be said if I actively pet him while focusing on something else — I would notice the softness of his fur but only if I directed my attention to him. Our thoughts and emotions are much the same. If we stay in one mindset for a prolonged period or do not notice how we feel and what we think, it can be challenging to separate from that mindset and to know it has become a part of us. The key is mindfulness.

How often do we pause to question why we reacted a certain way when someone did or said something to us? The first step is noticing how we respond to situations and people. Then we can start to see if patterns exist that we may not be aware of or may want to change. Be curious. Rather than make snap judgments, ask questions like, “I wonder why I got so defensive when she said…” or “What am I assuming about that person who just cut me off?”


Let’s give ourselves some grace and kindness. Change comes from compassion, not from judgement and criticism. The kinder we are to ourselves, the easier it is to be kinder to others. Likewise, the more merciful we are towards others, the more positive mindset we have, which have a ripple effect on others. So, the next time you see a “pass with care” sign, I encourage you to use it as a reminder to wonder — am I truly passing others with care? Rude acts by others may stick in our heads easier than kind ones but don’t underestimate the impact that kind acts, words and even thoughts and prayers can have. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)

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