The uphill stretch of road eventually ended and after a short respite began to descend again. My poor old Honda CRV was in it’s element – downhill. In it’s glee to not have to work so hard it forgot about the 55 MPH speed limit and soon attracted a follower – a shiny CHP cruiser.
“Do you know what I clocked you at?” said the cruiser’s driver.
“Um… 65 or 70?” I answered.
“How about 74 MPH.” Gulp.
“Can I see your driver’s license, registration and insurance card, please.”
Its been many years since I heard those words, but I guess its inevitable that you can’t escape forever if you drive as much as I do.
Handing me back my three documents the officer said, “Remember, that other pedal is for braking. Use it on the downhill. Have a nice day.”
What? No expensive ticket? Wow! I don’t know if it was because it was Thanksgiving weekend, or because he felt sorry for us having to drive a 14 year old car or whatever. Or maybe it was the ratty looking bathrobes hanging from the backseat handholds. I didn’t care – we were off the hook. The officer was gracious. And I (and Nan) was filled with gratitude. I fully deserved a ticket. No question about it.
In our daily exchanges with people are we this generous? Do we extend grace to others or are we more about justice? In case you need definitions, justice is getting what you deserve, whereas grace is getting what you don’t deserve: a reprieve or pardon.
Particularly with the people closest to us there is a tendency to take offense and want to “even up the score.” How sad that we are often not willing to turn the other cheek. For me the hardest thing to do is keep my mouth closed. Grace is not saying what I want to say. It feels like suffering – and maybe it is in a way.
Can you imagine how much better marriages would be if spouses’ first response would be to offer grace to each other? Kids need structure and correction, but they also need a lot of grace from parents. I can’t tell you how many adults we see suffer from leftover childhood pain, the result of harsh parenting.
Yes, there are limits to grace. We must hold boundaries as well – and speak the truth when needed. But grace might be speaking the truth without harshness or anger. It might be surrendering our “right” to retaliate. Or grace might be speaking up for someone that has a “weak voice” and struggles to be heard, not requiring them to suffer through a tough exchange with someone.
When have you been on the receiving end of grace? Where have you been a grace giver? Is your sense of justice so strong that this is one of those areas where you need to improve dramatically? If so, draw your strength from the ultimate Giver of grace.