Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Motivated by Mercy

My morning began like so many others. Dragging myself out of bed and through the shower. Making coffee. Waking up the children. Negotiating treatments, packing lunches, finding something for breakfast, loading the car. Going back upstairs for the thing I forgot. Making more coffee. Dropping one kid off at the sitter, back in the car, off to work!

I love this time of year. The crisp air in the morning reminds me that cold weather, favorite holidays, fuzzy pants and warm coats are right around the corner. This morning I was sipping my peppermint coffee, singing along to the song on the radio, and thinking about the day ahead. The sun had just begun to rise so it was still a little dark, but not so much that you feel you should still be in bed.

Blue lights. In my rearview mirror. Crap.

I looked down at my speedometer and cringed. There were no other cars around me. No chance that he was pulling someone else over. I found a good spot, pulled off, and waited for the hammer to fall.

Those of you who know me well know that I have had this coming for, like, EVER. The (very nice, very TALL) police officer called me "young lady," took my driver's license, and went back to his car. I sat there tearfully thinking about how much we do NOT need an increase in our car insurance rates right now, not to mention the inevitable fine.

It occured to me that it must really stink to be in a job where you routinely ruin someone's day. I kind of felt sorry for the officer, although it probably doesn't bother him as much as it would bother me.

What happened next was totally unexpected. I had been traveling at an ungodly speed in a 45mph zone. I deserved an ungodly ticket and probably at least two points on my license. At a minimum, I deserved a stern lecture about safe driving and about how nobody needs to get anywhere that fast.

What I got instead was mercy.

That wonderful, heaven-sent, saint of an officer gave me a warning and sent me on my way. And I can tell you, his mercy motivated me to obey the rules of the road far better than any fine or points could have ever done. In the moment I was overcome with how much I did not deserve the reprieve that I got. "Relief" does not even begin to cover how I felt.

And then it hit me: who in my life needs a little mercy? The cashier at the grocery store who keeps screwing up and taking forever? The high school kid working his first day in the drive through at McDonald's on a morning I'm running late? The kid at my school who routinely disrupts her class? The parent who can't seem to trust that I have his child's best interest at heart? My own children? My husband?

As the beautiful fall sunrise slowly turned the sky pink this morning, I thought of how much grace is afforded me on a daily basis. I fail over and over again. I can be selfish, vain, petty, arrogant, mean. I miss opportunities to encourage others because I am so focused on my own "stuff." I lack patience with the very people who need it from me most. I complain. I whine. I am ungrateful.

And yet I am daily blessed with the fellowship and encouragement of good friends, the love and support of family, the beauty of creation. God's grace is not only sufficient for the day, it is a never-ending spring of renewal. When I mess it up, in His mercy, God gives me another opportunity to make it right. Every single day is a gift. Today, I was touched by the actions of a man who, I hope, will be blessed for the mercy he showed to me. And tomorrow, I hope I remember the impact a simple act of mercy can have on the life of someone else.

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