Law and Grace

ticket

I just got a ticket for having my email application open on my cell phone
(that isn’t me or the officer but it’s just there for effect)

Not an email. Email APPLICATION. I picked it up at a red light and glanced at my email list on my screen.
Then I put it down.

When the officer pulled me over, I knew once I explained he would let me go. “See?” I showed him. “No texting. No talking.”
But your email list is open.”
“Yes, but no emails are open.
But you could have been reading the subject lines.”

I should stop here and mention that this is the same officer who has already pulled me over TWICE for cell phone violations. The first time, I had it on speaker, but held it too close because my mother couldn’t hear me. The second time I had it in my hand in front of me and he asked me point blank if I was talking on it or using my GPS. I confessed.
Now, two paid cell phone tickets later (both of which were deserved), I was getting an undeserved cell phone ticket for having my email application open. I won’t mention any names but Naganuma is written on the ticket and it happened in Santa Barbara.
Okay, maybe I’m a little bitter.

After I came home and bit my husband and child’s head off in my frustration, I decided it might be a good idea to reflect on this a little. It IS Lent after all, and it’s a good time to think about what God might be teaching us in our frustrations rather than thinking up nicknames like “The Bird” from Unbroken. (If you haven’t read it or seen it, you won’t get that, and it’s just as well.)

So what did God show me today?
First off, I’m writing a book about Perspective and I completely lost mine today. Good to know I might need my own book when it comes out. If 10% of life is what happens to you, and 90% is how you respond, I officially got an “F” today.
But I’m thankful God loves me anyway.

And that’s really what I’ve been thinking about. Grace. You may not notice it when it’s there, but you sure do notice it when it’s missing. The thing is, it seemed to disturb him as much giving me a ticket as it did me getting it. In my humiliated “getting a ticket” stance, I sat in my car for 25 minutes while he decided what to do, on one of the most well known thoroughfares in Santa Barbara– watching everyone pity me as they drove by.
I believe a couple of them were on their cell phones.
But I digress.

When he finally approached, it was like he was talking himself into giving me the ticket. He seemed to realize what I was doing wasn’t technically wrong. I tried to tell him he didn’t have to do it, that he could give me a warning and let me go, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
He could not lean toward grace.

In the end, I wonder when the last time was that he was shown grace. Maybe that was part of the problem. I certainly didn’t do a very good job doing it. My attitude was not even close to giving him grace.

The fact is, grace is best displayed when it’s undeserved.
In fact the only time we can really give grace is when it’s undeserved.
So Policeman Naganuma, I’m going to pay this ticket and let it go. And maybe next time you pull someone over and you’re not sure whether a ticket is deserved, you will too. But whether or not that happens, it shouldn’t matter.

Because grace is about going first.
Happy Lent.