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Stories from the journey of fatherhood & brotherhood

Speeding Ticket With My Son

fatherhood mistake police speeding Apr 16, 2020

I saw the red and blue lights in my rearview mirror -  he was after me. Being pulled over reminded me of teenage irresponsibility where brushes with “the law” - school principals, parents, and yes, the cops - were common; just a part of the cost of the wreckless life I was living. Now living most certainly as a sophisticated, conscientious adult - one who’d never willingly break the law - I felt a mixture of frustration, anger, shame, and regret as I restarted my pickup and pulled back onto the road. The yellow citation on the seat next to me was a reminder of my past - of missteps caught, penalties paid, and consequences suffered. 

That evening at home, my wife’s reaction was disappointment initially, followed by grace. Our son however, responded quite differently, as if what had happened recategorized dad - the superhero without fault - into the realm of criminal and outlaw. While I viewed it as just a part of life and a moment of inattentive driving, for him this was uncharted territory. His focus on wanting to know the details of the officer - his car and badge and sidearm - and the series of questions that ensued indicated this was a significant event for him. Having relayed the full account, beginning to end to him, he was assured that dad will not go to jail as a result of running a red light. 

But being pulled over had exposed a weakness of mine; of ours really - a weakness common to humanity: that of breaking rules and getting caught. This was an element of his father's life, that up ‘till now, our son had been shielded from. But life presents times of crisis, doesn’t it? Painful circumstances and dire situations - some of which are self-inflicted - that we must respond to. I’ve found that it is in this response of how others see us contend with our weakness and inadequacies that is a crucial part of our witness. Failure presents a powerfully authentic time to live out of our Godly character and personhood and say to the world: “I can and will blow it...and yet I will go on despite the situation; despite and yes maybe even because of the calamity before me I choose to take the high road, own up, seek grace, and as Paul reminds us - ‘press on’ living up to what it is I have already attained.

 

Dave Nieman
San Diego, California
Restoration Project Advocate

 

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