Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons Part 1: Humility

This past weekend has been one of the craziest, most terrifying, and most fun that I have ever had. The best part was that I learned important lessons and learned more about myself. In order to focus on the lessons I want to share, I'm breaking the post up into several. Here's the first...

It all started Friday afternoon when I left campus to go home. It was a beautiful afternoon and traffic was only starting to thicken. I will tell you now that I do obey the laws of the land. Most of the time, however, I do not obey the speed limit.

My philosophy, in working with my lead foot, is that it's perfectly acceptable to go with the flow of traffic even if we are all going well above the speed limit. I don't want to be that jerk that slows down everyone else by not keeping up. I drive reasonably (most of the time), and I know when enough is enough or when I can go a little more.

So, I was driving along the Interstate in the left lane, and I was three-quarters of the way home when I looked in my rearview mirror to find that all the cars behind me had magically disappeared. Odd, I thought...maybe I should get over into the middle lane and be safe inside the herd of metal. Nah...I think I'll just stick to staying behind the out-of-state SUV in front of me who had a lame habit of speeding up way ahead of me and slowing way down right on top of me.

All of sudden I saw flashing red and blue lights in my mirror. A cop car had quite literally come out of nowhere and was tailgating me. Naively, I thought he was trying to get around all of us. So I got over, realizing to my chagrin that he followed me. Then he put the sirens on. Holy Mother of God. I was being pulled over. Expletive! Expletive! Expletive!

After I stopped, I immediately began racking my brain for good excuses. The truth! That's what I'll tell him!
Ma'am, do you know how fast you were going? Somewhere between 65 and 70 (the truth for 99.9% of the entire damn drive home). Well, you were going 72 in a 55. And you were following that white car too closely. Oh. Well I'm sorry sir, but I'm just trying to get home so that I can get my sister to church. Alright. Driver's license and insurance please. Okay. I'll be back in a minute.
Meanwhile, I looked up ahead and I could see the speed limit sign telling the entire world that it went up to 65mph. Of course I had to squint a little, but holy mackerel I could see it! I did the math in my head, realizing that 72 in a 55 means reckless driving. Wonderful! But then my eyes flashed to the sign up ahead advertising the change in speed. I was so close! Why couldn't he just pick someone else?

He came back, gave me my ticket and told me where to sign and what to do. Also, watch your speed and distance. Okay. I will.

That change in speed limit sign is also right before an exit that I sometimes use to take the backroads home. On Friday, I used that exit instead of finishing the drive on the Interstate.

I was incredibly angry and upset. A million things went floating through my head. Like, the fact that everyone else was going the same speed, that I had to speed up to get over to the shoulder, that there was no room for me to get into the middle lane. Why me?

If you ask my family, they (and I myself) will say that I had it coming. I knew deep down inside my very bones that one day I was going to get it. But that supernatural, sixth sense of foreboding knowledge will not and did not prepare me for what lay in store. I was terrified!

I whined about it all weekend. Why me? My lesson of humility did not take very long to sink in, and I learned it well. If you've never experienced it, well, it isn't fun. It isn't fun when you get knocked down from your pedestal and onto the floor. It isn't fun when you're semi-paralyzed with fear all because you got caught doing something. The jokes and laughter from friends and family, that is actually fun and helps relieve some of the stress.

In its entirety, the lesson of humility is a hard pill to swallow. Jesus made being humble look easy. Actually, he didn't make being humble look easy, he was humble. So why am I having such a hard time being humble? Therein lies the challenge, the task at hand, the obstacle to overcome.

He is the epitome of what I strive for, of what we all strive to be like. I want to be just like Jesus. I guess God decided that one way I could learn how to be more humble like His Son is by teaching me a lesson of humility through one of my many vices, which is speeding.

This morning as I drove back to campus, I actually stayed below 70. It was hard, but I did it. This isn't to say that I won't ever speed again. Saying that would be a sin. I know I will. In the future, I will be more mindful of my surroundings. Hopefully, I will not be a victim of the end of the month quota ever again.

P.S. I found out that my friend's husband was pulled over the same morning, and then a few hours before I was pulled over, he was in the car with another guy who got pulled over. And I was telling the truth, I was trying to get home so that I could get my sister to the church on time to leave for the weekend's retreat.

Go Speed Racer, go!


Fr. Christian Mathis said...

If it makes you feel better, the last time I was pulled over in Loudon County it was for some strange new law that I had no clue about.

I do think that had I not had Chris Padgett in the car with me, I may have done better. He kept giving the cop the evil eye.

Ashley Siferd said...

Evil eyes are never good if you're trying to get out of things. I thought church would get me off and just a warning! Nope!

What strange new law? I should probably now about it since I like to break laws lol.

Anonymous said...

I really want to laugh at your expletives :) If it makes you feel better I'm pretty sure I have two red light camera tickets coming to my folks house in a month :(

Tina said...

I liked your post. Reminded me of my first speeding ticket...when I was 45 years old! I slowed down, keeping it within 5 mph of the speed limit. My younger son told me I was a changed woman after that ticket. (I didn't realize I sped that much!) Sometimes we need that kick in the pants to remind us of who we truly are.