I’ve been very aware of something the last two weeks and – for your own good – I really want to tell you about it. A LOT of people are tailgating me through school zones. They can’t wait to jump around me because, well, as I’m going 19-20 mph, I must be annoying them. I’m okay with that though, because I figure that I know something they don’t know ~ speeding in a school zone buys a Texas sized ticket. Been there. Done that. Busted. Here’s my story….
I was at the end of the school zone – almost through that long stretch – the road rose up and naturally I punched the gas to keep my speed up (ahem) – jumped into the other lane because the guy in front of me was, well …..crawling…..crested the hill…..faced the end of a radar gun – wanted to swear but bit my lip instead – and followed the officer’s direction to pull onto the side street. When he politely told me I was pulled over because I “was going 28 mph in a 20 mph school zone” I looked up and almost burst out with, “Oh no, I know I wasn’t going that fast.” (I mean really, didn’t the fact that I instinctively hit the brake at the sight of him make any difference?) But the better part of me kicked in and I humbly accepted the citation. And I mean humbly, as in I was feeling humiliated.
The truth is, I really was speeding, and I may have been a bit distracted as I went through the school zone. What difference did it make at that moment if I was going 21 mph or 28 mph? Speeding is speeding. And in a school zone, I could have endangered someone, right? What difference did it make if I haven’t had a ticket since I was 21 years old? I’m pretty sure there have been some rules broken over the years. Lucky for me that I wasn’t caught. The damage from this lapse in good driving? You actually have a choice in Texas: Pay the $222 ticket (ouch) and add 2 points to your license, or shell out about $175 for fees and a 6 hour Driver’s Safety Course to dismiss the ticket and keep the points off the license.
I chose to take the Driver’s Safety Course and have my case dismissed. It cost me time and a bunch of money to keep my record clean. But let me tell you, when the clerk handed me that piece of paper that said “Cause Dismissed” I felt happy. Free. Cleaned up and ready to follow the rules.
By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with my blog, right? I was driving last week (um, I hope I wasn’t distracted – one of the leading causes of accidents – just fyi) and couldn’t help but think of the correlation between the ease with which we can break a traffic rule and the ever-present temptation to sin. (Stay with me…) I’d like to think that I don’t sin, but I’d be lying. HA!
Rules keep us honest and free of guilt. When we keep them, we are not likely to hurt ourselves or others. God gave us Ten Commandments to guide us and keep us on the sin/guilt-free pathway. But when we do sin, we have a choice. We can deny our wrongdoing (oh, I so wanted to do that) or we can acknowledge our less than perfect behavior and accept the consequences. That takes humility.
We have a way to clean up our act and try again. We can have our “case dismissed.” Does this sound like the Sacrament of Reconciliation to you? When we confess our sin, we are forgiven. The priest then asks us to do a penance, or satisfaction for, or expiation. They may be fancy words but don’t let them put you off. Just as a debt should be repayed or an injustice to a neighbor corrected, we should make amends for our sin. This is usually done through prayer but can be service oriented too: something that fits the severity of the offense. When I was taking the Driver’s Safety Course I couldn’t help but think that it was a good thing for me to do. Penance for our sin seeks the spiritual good of the sinner, and when we are done, we can be free, happy, and ready to try again.
For more on the subject of Reconciliation, read my blog: “I Forgive You: Parts 1 and 2” or visit