I knew it the instant I passed him on the two-lane highway. Red and blue lights flashed. He pulled over, flipped a U-turn and was unquestionably after me – I was the only car on that side of the road. Caught. Speeding. Darn it!
“Ma’am, I clocked you at 86 in a 65.” Geez that looks worse on paper. I was on a country road, headed home from a weekend in Wray, Colorado (read: almost Nebraska and/or Kansas). The officer, completely justified in awarding me a speeding ticket, found my lead foot flaw.
I drive fast; there is no question about that. I blame it on genetics. It runs in the family. I always drive fast. I have important places to go and people to see. I know police officers. I have a thin-blue-line sticker on my car. Excuses – plenty of them. I could go on for days about why I drive fast and why I should be exempt from speeding tickets.
The truth is that I am not exempt from that law, or any other commandment, law, promise or agreement. None of us are. But when pride enters, humility flies out the window. We become caught in the web of invincibility or “above-the-law-ness.” We ride the wave of confidence and pat ourselves on the back for getting away with another risky move. Until, that is, a police officer bestows on you a hefty fine or the option to appear in court.
Call me crazy, but I think God put police officers in our midst to remind us of both the seemingly basic errors in traffic law, and the bigger, more consequential areas of pride in our hearts. This is, of course, where my thoughts wandered as I watched cars cruise on by, cars I previously passed. They drove the speed limit and I waited in front of not one, but two police cars.
Embarrassment – what a wonderful teacher – above almost anything else begs an examination of our prideful ways. It is certainly not the only “check” on human pride, but it is one that demands quick restoration.
It is embarrassing to get a speeding ticket. It is embarrassing to admit faults and failings in any area of our lives. Yet, without admitting those places we fail, we run the risk of thinking we get it right, all the time. The harder task, I think, is to question those areas of struggle, pride, a lack of humility, when a police officer is not at your window.
Pride hurts our souls and the souls of those we interact with. It is by far one of my greatest weaknesses, and one that I have to watch out for in even the simplest circumstances – friendships, relationships, the workplace, my coursework, and, yes, even my driving. It manifests as stubbornness, hard-heartedness, ego, the need to be right, and it ultimately diminishes our ability to live compassionately, thankfully, relationally.
I thanked the officer, set my car to 65 (okay, maybe 70) on cruise control and drove the rest of the way conscious of the other areas in my life where pride occupies too much space. How do I let forgiveness in? How do I let love in? How do I approach situations with a humble heart? How do I hand over my prideful moments to God so he can heal my brokenness?
Yes, I know, quite serious thoughts to come from a simple speeding ticket. But, without that speeding ticket – and other gentle or not-so-gentle reminders of humility – I, and I believe we, can continue down a prideful path without much examination.
In what areas could we use a little more humility and a little less pride?
I’m not above the law. I have an expensive ticket to remind me of that. I’m also not above God’s law or the laws of human interaction. I would gladly accept regular reminders of that – perhaps without driving too fast next time.
© 2013. Autumn Jones. All Rights Reserved.