Exactly 3 days after the accident with sunshine girl’s finger and the Epi-Pen, I had another humbling experience.
A speeding ticket.
My first one.
In the mini van.
With all three kids.
In the aftermath of the Epi-Pen accident, I wasn’t feeling like the best mom. I was actively fighting for joy from some pretty heavy mom-guilt. Not that there is ever a good time for a speeding ticket, but this one certainly came at a bad time.
We were having a rough morning. The littlest one was teething and in apparently fierce discomfort. She was just not herself.
After attempting to soothe and distract at home, it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I decided to do a quick errand.
Because baby was so unhappy, I decided to drive further to a less crowded store, hoping she would fall asleep coming home.
As we neared the store, the road was closed. We turned right at the barricade and continued on an unfamiliar road. I was just cruising along at roughly the same speed as the previous road, checking street signs to figure out where to turn.
Heading down a hill, I noticed a small park and thought – I should remember that. Then, I saw a police car parked at the bottom of the hill.
Yikes. Sharp intake of breath. You know that feeling, don’t you? See a police car and tap the brakes even though you’re not sure how fast you’re going?
Hmm. How fast was I going? Didn’t know.
Then I saw the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill. 30.
Pretty sure I was going faster than that. Sure enough, on came the lights as he pulled into the street.
‘OK guys, mama is going to get a speeding ticket’.
Our very cautious, rule-following oldest child looked wide-eyed from the back. He was silent but his shocked face revealed concern. Or maybe horror.
I assured the kids it was going to be OK and reminded them that police help people. Today this one was going to help mommy be a better diver.
The officer was very kind but informed me I was going 52 in a 30.
By a park.
And my license plate tabs were expired.
Without excuse, I apologized. Pretty sure my eyes were as wide as our son’s.
I told him about being diverted from the road closure and how I was paying attention to street signs instead of the speed limit. I was sure we’d paid for our tabs so told him I would go home and find them. He headed to his car.
The kids were silent, even the baby. For possibly the first time all morning.
When the officer returned, indeed our tabs were paid for. Find them. Then he gave me my very first speeding ticket – but not the ticket I deserved.
I deserved a ticket for driving 52 in a 30 by a park. That friends, is a humongous ticket. Instead, he gave me a ticket for going 44 in a 30. Two full tiers below what I deserved.
I choked back tears and thanked him.
As a rule-follower myself, I could not hold back the tears as he walked away. I was still so surprised it happened, embarrassed and humbled, and felt guilty for getting the ticket in front of the kids. Then I felt bad for crying in front of the kids, but could. not. stop.
Not my best mom-moment.
I may have prayed a silent ‘really, God? – don’t you remember Monday?‘ prayer. Ok. Yes. Actually I’m sure I did that.
Now in the store parking lot just around the corner, I wept.
Our poor kids were silently watching, unsure of what to do next. Finally, our son spoke up from the back – ‘Mama. I’m so sorry you got a ticket‘.
His kind words caused me to glance up at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. His worried look put a stop to my tears – there was a lesson in this.
The moment must not be wasted.
Oh Lord, please give me the words to use this moment for YOUR glory.
You guys, it is in these moments, when we have made a mistake, failed or been humbled in front of our children – in the midst of authentic remorse and emotion, when well-chosen words can be most powerful.
Our children are often the first-hand witness that parents are not perfect. While we don’t need to discuss our every failing with our kids, something that unfolds right in front of them should be addressed.
How we address it matters.
When these things happen, whether a speeding ticket or some other obvious show of imperfection, we need to use the moment to teach them about truth.
After some deep breaths, we talked about why I was pulled over. And the many reasons I deserved a BIG ticket – speeding was breaking the rules, having expired tabs was irresponsible, and how as a mom, I should be even more attentive to places like parks where kids could be crossing the street.
The officer had every right to give me exactly what I deserved – but he didn’t.
We talked about how the officer treated me. He spoke kindly to me and listened to what I had to say. He treated me with respect and we talked about how in our family, we respect police officers.
Then, despite the emotional roller coaster in my brain, joy crept in and we begain to talk about grace.
The officer chose to give me a smaller ticket than I deserved. In doing so, he showed me grace I did not earn or ask for.
Their sister’s middle name is Grace, which means a gift undeserved.
And like the officer’s gift was undeserved, I also do not deserve the grace of God. It still baffles me that God showed such lavish grace in sending His son Jesus to die as punishment for my sins. And for the sins of our children.
All because of the simple yet profound reason that God loves us. The imperfect, the sinful, the unlovable – we are the beloved redeemed because of lavish grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Just like I was unaware of my speeding, we were once unaware of our own sin. We didn’t ask him to give grace, He did it on His own. Salvation is God’s work alone.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)
We don’t deserve it, but Jesus stands in our place of the judgement we deserve because He chooses to. We just need to acknowledge Him and receive it.
We deserve punishment.
We get grace.
Because He loves us.
The heart of the Gospel.
Smiles. Nodding. I think these precious children really got it.
We prayed, thanking God for Jesus. We thanked God for the police officer and the kindness he showed mommy. And for the reminder of what Jesus did for each of us.
The call to my husband started fresh but brief tears as I explained how the stellar mom who allowed the accident on Monday had just gotten a speeding ticket with all the kids in the car on Thursday.
Not a great week.
My husband showed me unwarranted grace, just as he did on Monday. He is an undeserved gift to me.
Finally, we got out of the car and stumbled into the store with my tear-streaked face but a sense of God-given peace that cannot be described here with mere words.
The outing wasn’t exactly the ‘distraction’ I’d planned. I’m grateful we ended up with a lesson of eternal value that left a strong impression on their hearts.
I guess if getting a speeding ticket is what it took to give them a tangible understanding of grace, then so be it.
Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids.
ALL speeding tickets might not be so bad after all – but I’d rather not get another one.
If you see me driving around town like a granny, now you’ll know why.
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