The Thing We Can’t Afford to Hate

I hated riding the bus when I was a kid.

It wasn’t just that I barfed one of the many times I got carsick — it was being crowded in there with a bunch of sweaty kids, riding for 45 minutes, and hearing the elderly bus driver scream, “Jennicka!!” at this little girl who was always causing trouble.

After I bought my Toyota Corolla in tenth grade, I promised myself I would never ride a bus again. And now, decades later, I ride the bus to work in Washington, DC.

Like the bus riding days of old, I have gotten carsick, my total commute is about 45 minutes, I frequently get pushed up against sweaty strangers, and I have heard more than one bus driver yell at trouble-making passengers. And because I don’t have an alternative, I have chosen to be content — until yesterday.

Haters Gonna Hate

It was raining steadily, and when I got to the bus stop, I discovered that the next bus was coming in ten minutes. This has been happening far too much lately. As my fellow bus riders know, a late bus is a full bus. And a full bus is probably going to leave you behind unless you elbow your way past elderly women and small children.

I did manage to force my way onto the bus and get all mashed up with a bunch of strangers. Then we waited, and waited, and waited as the driver hollered and said she refused to go until everyone got behind the yellow line at the front.

When the bus finally pulled away, it sounded like it had been outfitted with the engine from an old John Deere tractor. And finally, two long and slow miles later, we finally chug-a-chug-chugged to my stop. I stepped onto the sidewalk, looked back at the steamy bus of grossness and murmured, “I hate riding the bus.” And as soon as I said it, I took it back.

My Only Alternative

I cannot afford to hate that bus. I plan to live in the DC area and keep my current job for a while, and if I choose to hate my commute, then I’m going to be hating ten to eleven hours of my workweek for the next few years.

No. I won’t do it. It’s not worth it. I can’t poison my life like that.

I have had good conversations with old ladies on my bus. I have gotten a free ride from the bus driver. I have read books I wouldn’t have otherwise had time to read; and I have gotten uninterrupted prayer time. The bus can be cramped and crowded and slow and stinky; but it is a sanctuary God has given me right now, and that’s the way I’m going to see it, because life is too short to be hating big chunks of it.

I don’t know what your “bus” is — maybe it’s cleaning bedpans at work or living with your annoying roommate or simply being single, but it’s your life. It’s the one God gave you, and if He expects us to “[m]ake the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:16, NLT), then I’m sure He intended for us to do that in the midst of the boredom, the annoyance, and the tedium of each moment. So let’s find God in those times and see just how beautiful He can make even the most aggravating circumstances.

Let’s learn to love the imperfect bus we’re on.