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Guilty as Charged, but Unburdened!

July 10, 2009

I was just 16.17 years old, approximately, when I received my first ticket for speeding.  The problem was, I was innocent – really!  I was trying to explain this to my four year-old, but even she wouldn’t buy my story.  It’s not fair!

Maybe the court of public opinion will way-in on my side and I can finally feel vindicated. Here’s my story.  I had gone to visit friends near Sherwood High School, in what was then rural Washington County.  As I pulled out onto the main road, I assumed a speed that was “reasonable and prudent” for the conditions.  It was a typical country road with a yellow line down the road.  At that time, most roads that looked and felt like this were posted at 40 mph.  So, that’s the speed I chose.

Suddenly, and without any provocation on my part, there was a Washington County Deputy Sheriff on my tail – with his overhead lights flashing. Apparently, not only was this NOT a 40 mph road, but I was in a school zone too.  Despite my earnest teenage explanations, the deputy walked off with a “Harumpf!”

Being the young  nerd that I was am, I figured this would be no trouble when I explained it to the  judge. Two months later, I asked my Dad if I could borrow the car.  He was mildly impressed that I was willing to face the judge alone, but then again, that’s the way he raised me – self-sufficient to the last drop!

As I stood in front of the grumpy, old judge and explained why I was indeed, not guilty, his glare nearly cut through my Greg Brady locks and seared my frail brain. I was not only intimidated, but quite dismayed that he questioned my wisdom, my explanation of the facts, and my innocence.  “Harumpf!” He mumbled.  “Guilty.  Pay the clerk.  Next case.”

What amazed me even more was the emotion this raised in me, as I related the story to my loving family.  I was still angry.  I’d been wronged.  How dare he/they!  I was right – dammit!

I looked at my Darling Demure Daughter in the mirror.  Her worshiping eyes probed me for answers. “Daddy, why didn’t he believe you”? she asked.  I tried hard to explain the mind of grumpy old men of authority.  I vainly attempted to explain the naivety of very young teenagers.  I struggled to explain that even though I was right – the stated speed limit in Oregon, at that time, was whatever is “reasonable and prudent.”  And though I’d been driving since I was eight years old, and I was driving reasonably and prudently, for the conditions, 16.17 year-old boys actually have no concept of what reasonable and prudent means – let alone to determine how to apply it.

And with that probing discussion, I convinced myself that I was indeed guilty as charged. What!?  What.  “Oh.” I said to my adoring wife. “I suppose I should forgive those grumpy, old men who done me wrong?”  So, right there and then, in the presence of my family, I forgave those men and moved on.  About time, don’t you think?

As I’ve contemplated this story over the last day, I realized that little injustices like this can stack up on a guy. They can also sneak up and beat us down!  Today a man called me a moron because my agenda  interfered with his.  He was livid.  I apologized, but it was a pretty minor infraction – yet he looked like he wanted to hurt kill me.  I’ve known that rage.  Too many men live with it.

Today, in Starbucks, I watched a young, pretty, but very sad mother talk with a caseworker. Her children were struggling to maintain  a grip on some foundation of reality.  I casually watched, and wondered.  Why was this woman so sad?  Just then she laughed, and I could see where many of her teeth had been knocked out.  My heart wept.

I have suffered many injustices.  So have you.  I’m in the middle of one right now.  “They didn’t listen!” I cried.  “They don’t care!”  “It’s not right!  It’s not fair!”  “Listen to me!” I shout – but they aren’t.  And they don’t.

Let it go.  Forgive them.  Not because they deserve it, but because you will be a better person if you do. You will be happier if you let go of the hurt, the anger, the frustration – and the injustice.  All of them.  If you don’t do it for yourself – at least do it for those you love (or will love).

NOTEThe best part of this – which I didn’t do on purpose, was to model this for my kids.

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3 Comments
  1. Robert permalink
    July 12, 2009 11:49 pm

    Absolutely you are right , keep it always this honesty you will be better person …

  2. rog permalink
    July 14, 2009 6:11 am

    good post – we don’t forgive because they deserve it (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t). We forgive because we deserve to let go of the “stuff” that we hang on to. Life is too short and baggage gets too heavy.

    Also see:
    Matthew 6:14 (NET) “For if you forgive others​20​ their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

  3. July 14, 2009 11:03 am

    Great post…

    being pulled over quite a bit as a teenager.. I am the speed abiding mini van driving dad now..

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