Where Honking Is a Virtue

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

We were amazed at the driving skills of the Indonesians. Larry and I had flown into Jakarta to speak at a Christian conference. As our missionary friends drove us away from the airport, Larry’s and my eyes met as we simultaneously thought: “Are we back in Caracas, Venezuela?”

In both places, honking is a virtue. Unlike the United States, where a honk is usually accompanied with a rude gesture and a scowl, in Jakarta (and other places of the world, I’m sure), drivers honk to let others know, “I’m next to you, let’s cooperate.”

Yes! Cooperate! In Indonesia, there are more motor bikes than cars, and when you get two cars and three motorbikes whizzing around in the space of two lanes, everybody had better cooperate! It was like watching a finely choreographed dance. In the two weeks we drove extensively in Indonesia, we never saw a single automobile accident—although I’m told they occur. But because most people let others know with a honk that they are coming close, people seem to automatically juxtaposition themselves to allow everyone to go on their way safely.

As I wondered how this system was even possible, I realized that no one there had a sense of “space.” In America, I get angry if someone cuts me off by coming into “my” lane without warning. That’s my “space” and I’m entitled to be offended. How dare you come close to me! I’m here!

But in Indonesia, there’s no sense of “my space” or driving “rights.” No one is offended if you crowd in—and believe me, we saw crowding. I never knew two cars could drive along only inches apart and not hit. But it was because they were both cooperating.

I didn’t really want to listen to the Holy Spirit’s application for me as I thought about this, but I couldn’t ignore it. I recognized how easily I can feel offended, especially in the relationships closest to me. Can I be honest? Especially in my marriage!

If Larry doesn’t do what I want him to do, if Larry doesn’t consider my opinion always more important than his own, if Larry forgets to open the door for me, I get offended! He has somehow violated my personal space, my “rights.” I begin to see him as the enemy, instead of us being on the same team.

I also recognized that the drivers in Indonesia don’t take the other person’s behavior personally. They believe the honk is for their own benefit—so that as they come alongside, there will be enough space for both of them. Why can’t I remember that in my relationships? Most of the time, whatever the offending person has done usually is not even done on purpose, but by mistake. (And ironically, when I do the same thing to other people, I wonder why their nose is bent out of shape!)

By receiving an action as a personal offense, I allow it to become a statement about my own worth and value, when most likely it wasn’t meant to be that at all.

Paul exhorts us, “Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition” (Philippians 1:27 MSG). When I remember the real enemy is Satan, whose intention is to divide and conquer, I remember to fight the real “opposition” and stand firmly united with those I love.

I’m working on my spirit of offense. Will you join me?

I…implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB

Where honking is a virtue – thoughts on cooperation with the Holy Spirit from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to travel and has been in more than 25 countries and has spoken in 8 of them. Her passion is to help others (and herself) live more for God’s glory than anyone or anything else.

Kathy is the author of more than 50 books, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God's Glory by [Miller, Kathy Collard]including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory Do you want a purer passion for serving God? Pure-Hearted will inspire you to focus on and desire  God’s glory and enjoy the benefits without guilt: benefits like selflessness, security, satisfaction, surrender, stability, and self-control. 

4 thoughts on “Where Honking Is a Virtue

  1. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share about being offended too easily. Unfortunately, God still needs to be sanctifying me in this area. I’d love for others to share their journey in this challenge. Or maybe you’ve never struggled with it. Why do you think so?


  2. Yes, I also struggle with people who “honk” at me in life. I grew up in the country, mostly. Cities — and large numbers of people — always frazzle me. When people are rude or unkind toward me, my response is to withdraw out of hurt.My husband is quiet and gentle, and his responses are the same. I do not feel my “rights” have been violated, but rather, that I have been rejected. And that hurts. My own attitudes toward people are to keep on giving and helping — unless they are unkind.Then I avoid them in the future. Over the years, I’ve learned to avoid a lot of social interaction because the emotional back & forth distracts me from my writing ministry. I’m not sure that’s the best response, but it is a coping mechanism. Sheri


    1. Sheri, thank you so very much for sharing. You have brought out some very important things that I’m sure readers will appreciate, because they can evaluate their own reasons for their reactions. And you’ve also identified an important underlying cause: you grew up in the country. City living can definitely make a person more tolerant of the chaos–or be even more frustrated! So, good thinking and thank you for sharing. I always love seeing your comments on Arise. You add a lot.


  3. Kathy, I so enjoyed reading about honking in Indonesia. I appreciated your vulnerability in your writing and illustrated to me that I can relate! Your analogy pulled me in and make me think of my own life and the times I was quick to feel offended. And, or, quick to judge. Through my walk in my faith, God is developing in me more patience and I’m learning that perhaps I misperceived something that was said, or a look that was given my way, which puts me in the wrong and then I feel I let God down. That is a terrible feeling. I’ve learned that if that’s the case to learn from it and let it go and in the future to breath and digest what happened rather than quickly assuming offense. I live in the Northeast and road rage is unfortunately, common on our highways and byways. Therefore, I now take the tactic to ease up, let them go first, and to show tolerance on the road and to stay away from erratic drivers. I don’t know if that helps with fostering roadway cooperation or not, but at least it makes me a more peaceful driver and am less offended.

    Liked by 1 person

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