By the GRACE of GOD

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for many things.  

1.  My folks are not in the hospital.  

2.  We gained a new daughter-in-law recently.  

3.  We've been couponing since August, which has enabled us to stretch our dough and regularly donate goods to the needy.  

4.  We bought the final season of LOST this year, so now I can return to the island whenever I want to.  

5.  There's a very nice cop in town named Officer Miller.   

I know this, because I got pulled over a few days ago.  

I wasn't really speeding, as the speed limit was 35.  I was going 35.  The problem was that I was in a school zone, and, yep, it was school-zone time.  I was just tooling along, singing to the radio.

When the cop waved me over (he was standing in the street), I thought, Hmm, must be a problem at the high school.   My brain was out to breakfast. 

My daughter, who was in the passenger seat, said, "Were you speeding, Mom?  It's probably the school-zone thing." 

Well, yes, it was.  How embarrassing.  And stupid.  

The cop was friendly, Officer Miller.  He peered in the window and, spying my girl, said, "Dropping her off at school?"

My daughter kind of chuckled and said, "Oh no.  I'm a teacher."

I handed him my license and registration.  "We were just going to the gym," I added, like that would explain anything. 

"Where do you teach?" he asked my daughter.

"I used to teach at MCC (Melbourne Central Catholic)," she replied.  "But, I'm taking some time off, because...I'm in formation to become a nun."

Scribbling down all my personal information, the cop replied, "My daughter's thinking about becoming a nun."

I had been sitting meekly while they chatted past me.  Now, my head whipped to the cop.  I've never met anyone else whose daughter was considering the religious life. 

"Really?" my daughter said. 

"Does she go to MCC?" I asked. 

"No," he replied.  "She goes here.  She wanted some classes that MCC doesn't offer." 

"That's cool," my daughter said, referring to the nun thing. 

Done writing, Officer Miller said, "I'll be back in a minute, and you can be on your way."

My daughter and I were quiet for a minute.

"Wow," I murmured.  "How weird is that?  His daughter's thinking about becoming a nun."

"A Catholic family," she said.

Officer Miller returned and handed me my paperwork.  "Do you realize you were twenty miles over the limit?" he asked.

"No," I said, humiliated.  "I'm sorry.  I forgot about the school zone."

"We don't usually give warnings at twenty over," he informed me.  "It's just too fast."

"I understand," I said, ready for a $200 dollar ticket, and probably a point or two.  I was already dreading the online traffic school test.

"However," he continued, "considering the conversation we just had - and the fact that you and I share the same birthday - I'm going to let you go with a warning.  Because you seem like the type of person that would learn from a warning."

I was stunned.  "Thank you," I mumbled.  "I am.  I will."

He looked me in the eye.  "Just so you know, the fine for this would have been $459.00, and four points on your record."  He held up four fingers. 

I was shocked.  $459.00!  Four points!

"Oh my..."  I felt even worse.  Like what Julia Roberts said to Dermot Mulroney in My Best Friend's Wedding - pond scum.  And certainly unworthy of Officer Miller's mercy.  "I'm sorry."

"OK, then.  Take it easy.  Be safe."  He sauntered off, this angel-officer.

We sat there for another minute.  I hate driving after an encounter with a cop.  I want to go home and bury my face in the sofa.  "Holey, Moley," I said before I eased away from the curb. 

I don't remember the rest of the conversation with my daughter.  I was in a daze while we drove to the gym.  This incident stuck with me all day.

Twenty miles over the limit sounded terrible.  Like I was racing away from a bank robbery.  $459.00 sounded terrible.  Four points on my record sounded terrible.  The whole thing was awful.  Severe consequences.  For a thoughtless oversight.  No excuse.

By the grace of God, I was stopped by a nice, generous cop who shares my birthday and has a daughter who is open to God's call on her life.

I'm still shaking my head about it.  

It hit me today, if Officer Miller saw my birth date, he saw my weight too.  Just one more tidbit to make me grimace.

This is the yellow "offender's" copy of my warning ticket. 

I'm going to tape it to my windshield, so I will never forget the kindness of a stranger.  And the kindness of God.  And how He sure likes to play with me.

This is certainly my dough-stretcher deal of the week.  No coupon could have saved me $459 dollars.  

I realized something else too.  If you're going to get pulled over, it helps to have an almost-nun in the car.


Cindy said...

It never hurts to be reminded once more of God's Grace!! We so much need His grace and I love it that God's grace is always there and that it doesn't make me feel humiliated to be humble enough to realize how much I always need Him. Thanks for your Thanksgiving story!!

Anonymous said...

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." (Psalm 103:8).

We serve a great and powerful God who chose not to crush us (as we deserve), but bestow on us His mercy and grace.

The Psalmist lists some of the benefits:
- forgives our iniquity
- heals our diseases
- redeems our lives from the pit

I think speeding tickets falls in the first category.

We have much to be grateful for, and good reason to be merciful and gracious to others.

Thanx for the wonderful reminder!

Robyn said...

Gotta love grace, and mercy! So loved reading your post(s)