I was looking forward to meeting a couple of my friends for lunch the other day. I rarely go out to lunch, but they asked and I love to be included, so off I went. It was nice to get out of the office. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I was listening to KLove radio and had the windows down, enjoying the fresh air as I drove down El Camino Real. At one point I noticed a police car with its lights on, so I moved from the left to the middle lane so he could get by. He moved over also. I politely moved over again, pulling into the right lane. When the cop followed me, I thought, ‘Uh oh!’ and pulled into a driveway. He was pulling me over!
I couldn’t believe it! I knew I wasn’t speeding. I was following the flow of traffic. I’m a big fan of using the turn signal, so I knew that wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t using my cellphone and I wasn’t eating or doing anything else distracting. I had no idea why I would be getting pulled over.
It turns out I got a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. What pedestrian? I didn’t see a pedestrian. The police officer said someone apparently wanted to cross the street.
You may be thinking, Ticket-shmicket. What’s the big deal? We all get pulled over once in awhile. I share my tale of woe because my thought process, both immediately afterwards and now a few weeks later, actually reveals a piece of my heart.
Right and wrong. Injustice. Fairness. What I think should happen versus what actually happens affects me—deeply. I’ve had a lifetime of feeling slighted and perceiving I was always getting the short end of the proverbial stick. Everything that happened in my past—from feeling like my parents loved my siblings more than me to worrying that they assumed I was doing something wrong even though every fiber in my being did the right thing—really did a number on me. Add in my good-girl persona, which is always trying to do the right thing to earn acceptance and love, and the result is that I am highly sensitive to fairness. When I get punished for something I didn’t do, it’s a big deal.
Getting a ticket for not yielding to someone crossing the street seems wrong on so many levels to me. Even taking away the unsafe city planning (who in their right mind would try to cross six lanes of El Camino Real without a light?), and taking out all the other drivers who didn’t stop, I would’ve stopped if I had seen a pedestrian. I’m a polite driver. Shoot, I’m one of those nice drivers that lets people turn out of a driveway into traffic in front of me. I let cars using their turn signal merge into my lane, and if anyone does the same for me, I smile and wave thank you. If I saw someone trying to cross the street, I would stop. That’s who I am.
So this was wrong. Wrong for that police officer to give me a ticket. Wrong for him to judge me. Wrong for him to think I am not the person I really am.
Whoa! Did you catch what I just did? My brokenness turned getting a simple ticket into a full-blown assault on my character. My identity has been so wrapped up in being a good girl that I find it difficult to separate who I am from what I do. I work so hard to do everything right. I follow directions. I read the owner’s manual—cover to cover. I do what I’m supposed to do. I put a lot of effort into doing things correctly. My brokenness says I have to keep striving and doing everything according to the book to have any chance at acceptance.
But that’s a lie. That’s a big, fat, liar-liar-pants-on-fire lie from the enemy. God says my identity is found in him. My worth and value come from him and him alone. I don’t need to work hard to earn God’s acceptance. He accepts me as I am. Period.
So I take a breath. I ask God to speak his truths to me. I ask God to help me see this situation through his eyes.
Granted, a crosswalk with no stoplight on a busy, multi-laned street isn’t the best idea, but it’s there. Maybe there was someone who wanted to cross the street, and I just didn’t see him or her. It’s possible. Maybe all my rationalizing on why I shouldn’t have gotten a ticket is more about my wounds and unhealed issues, and has nothing to do with getting a ticket.
So I pay my fine, sign up for traffic school, and ask God to bring more healing to my heart. I ask God to help me separate who I am from what I do. I ask God to remind me that I don’t need to do anything to earn his love and acceptance. I even ask others for prayer. And do you know what prayer God gave to two different people to share with me this week? I am loved.
So, thanks for the ticket, God. Getting that ticket triggered old wounds that made me come to you for help, and that’s where I got confirmation of your love.
Lorianne Lee’s whole identity was being a teacher (or so she thought). Now she’s trying to figure out who she is without being "Miss Lee." Lorianne enjoys being an auntie to her nieces, nephew, and friends’ kids who call her "Auntie Lorianne." She loves food but can’t afford to go out anymore. Some call her a prayer warrior, but she doesn’t feel worthy of that label. Lorianne wants to find her identity in Christ. She’s trying to be open to whatever God has for her, but she’ll tell you she’d much rather God just tell her what to do, whom to hang out with, and how to spend her time.