Sometimes the words of my mouth and my behaviour are totally incompatible!
This fact was highlighted, yet again, this morning. We have three daughters, ranging in ages from thirteen to nineteen, therefore this is my thirteenth consecutive year at the same primary school. Just outside the main school gates there is a ‘Stop & Drop’ zone. You stop in this area just long enough for your child to kiss you goodbye, get out the car, take her suitcase out of the boot, give you a little wave, turn and walk into the school and then you drive off. For thirteen years I, along with other parents, have been receiving notices from the school, on a regular basis, highlighting this fact. There are few things more frustrating then arriving outside the school to find cars parked in this area. You then have to drive a distance away to find a safe parking spot, where your child can get out of the car. Sometimes the only spot you can find is out of site of the school gates, you then have to switch the car off and walk with your child to the school gates, all because some inconsiderate person decided to park in a ‘Stop & Drop’ zone. Over the years many parents have almost come to blows over this issue.
Thirteen years is a long time to witness this behaviour on a regular basis, so this morning, when we arrived at the ‘Stop & Drop’ zone, in the pouring rain, to find a car parked – no driver in site – I could feel the frustration welling up inside me. Cars were having to double park or drive on because there was a bottle neck being created as cars could not just flow into this space and flow out again! Eventually, I managed to find a space so my child could get out of the car. As I was about to drive off the driver of the parked car came out of the school and proceeded to walk towards her car. Well, after thirteen years, I had had enough of this inconsiderate and thoughtless behaviour! I switched my car engine off, climbed out the car (much to the horror of my high school child, who was still in the car) and approached the parent. I then advised her that this was a ‘Stop & Drop’ zone. I think she was rather taken aback and did mumble an apology. I got back into the car and as we were driving off the conversation went something like this:
Older daughter: “That wasn’t very polite, mom”. Me: “What do you mean? I thought I was very self-controlled and polite”. Older daughter: “You may think so, mom, but you obviously didn’t hear the tone you were using!”
I started to feel a wee bit guilty but justified the guilt with the fact that all I had done was point out something that the school is constantly trying to get across to parents.
After dropping the older daughter off at school I started to praise the Lord. The conversation between God and I went something like this:
God: “Excuse me Noel, but didn’t you just use your mouth in a rather abrupt fashion. Amy was right – the tone you used when talking to that parent was horrible. You could have said exactly the same thing but in a much nicer way. And now you want to use the same mouth to worship me. There is something incongruent with that”. Me: “But Lord, it has been thirteen years of frustration at having to watch parents just disregard the request not to park there!” God: “That means you have had thirteen years to practice self-control and not allow others to determine your attitude and reactions!” Me: “Please forgive me”. God: “I forgive you. Now please pray that you haven’t spoilt that parent’s entire morning with your attitude”.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9)
God does not hold my sin, my rudeness, my selfishness, my impoliteness against me. He redeems me and clothes me with righteousness.
So I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to that parent. Not for what I said but for the manner I said it in. I am sorry for being so lacking in grace.
Image courtesy of Google.