Anyone who’s been within 100 ft of me and a car knows that whoever signed my drivers test saying I passed was clearly under the influence of at least three substances that December 2011 morning. Put plainly, I’ve had my license for about 5 years and I have been in 4 “official” accidents, all my fault, two within ten seconds of one another involving two semi trucks and an unplanned trip to the emergency room. That’s honestly impressive in the worst of possible ways. I’m not bragging about this by any means, in fact I try to get out of driving every opportunity I get and if the opportunity to move to a city that relies mostly on public transportation arose I’d jump at it. If I have even one alcoholic beverage I refuse to get behind the wheel for a minimum of one hour purely because my sober driving habits are dangerous enough and I am not combining those with OBK in the unintentional pursuit of a DWI.
Wednesday morning I was on my way to teach a 5:45 AM Yoga Sculpt class. Every Wednesday, I throw on my yoga pants, slam my tired body in my car and press my foot on the gas and keep my eyeballs open with toothpicks as I make my way down the highway towards the motherland of all things cake eater: Edina. My primary choice for caffeine intake at this point would be intravenously, but it took three nurses to hold teenage Kelsey down to get her HPV shots so that isn’t happening. Making coffee myself would take an extra 15 minutes in the morning and seeing as I have to leave my house before even Starbucks is open, I refuse to do anything that is absolutely not necessary in the morning.
I usually arrive around 5:10, tear into the Starbucks parking lot in the same complex as our studio, inhale my coffee and get into the studio 10 minutes before my notoriously late co-teacher. (Another rant, another day). I then teach a class that makes morning people mutter the same words that I do when my alarm goes off at like 7:30 on a normal day. Primarily expletives.
This was the first week that my class was bumped from 6:00 AM to 5:45 AM and I was in great distress trying to grapple with this indecency when all of a sudden I see red white and blue lights following me. Sadly, this wasn’t some overly zealous patriot continuing his Labor Day celebrations. Remember the monologue at the beginning of the narrative describing my driving capabilities (or lack thereof)? The same script surfaced in my brain at this exact moment and I was immediately grateful that Corepower sold yoga pants out of a legitimate fear that I might soil mine.
The officer came out to my car and explained that he had pulled me over for speeding and running a red light. Honestly, I could easily believe the speeding remark because Ricky Bobby and I have similar outlooks on life in that we both want to go fast, but I didn’t even remember running a light. He asked for my license and proof of insurance. I dug in my purse and handed him my license, and as I searched for my progressive papers he asked me if I still lived at the Bloomington address. I internally shuddered at the thought of still living in the suburbs and explained it was my parents’ old address, that I now lived in Minneapolis. He asked how long I’d lived there and pointed out that I easily could have changed it in the last year as I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have my proof of insurance. Great. Strike four.
He explained that he was going to go run my information and I faked a calm appearance while internally I panicked. I knew my record. I knew how many accidents I’ve caused. I knew that at one of them I didn’t have my proof of insurance before. I knew I had every infringement you could possibly get outside of a DWI on my driving record. While my mistake was SO unintentional and I was apologizing profusely, I was guilty on all accounts and he had every right to give me five tickets right then and there before recognizing these weren’t necessarily first time offenses.
I cringed as he walked back. He bent down and said:
“I do not endorse any traffic infringements, but especially at a stop light. Nobody at a stoplight is paying any attention to anything other than the color, and while I’m sure you feel silly for running it now imagine how you’d feel if you caused an accident. Imagine what you would feel if you or someone else got hurt or died?! Please, please do not do that again. I want you and everyone safe.”
And he walked away. No tickets, no written warning.
I immediately started sobbing because that is me and that is Jesus. That is sin and that is mercy. There is a God in heaven that knows every single one of my wrongs: from rolling my eyes at my parents as a three year old to the occasional gossip at age 24. He has a full record of all of the mistakes I have committed. He sees me continuing to do them in autopilot, and He knows all about it. He knows that I’m not intentionally trying to defy what I’m supposed to do and He knows I would never intentionally hurt anyone but he loves me and everyone too much to leave it unaddressed. But instead of addressing it with harsh fines that I honestly could not pay right now he showers on grace and explains that rules are set in place to protect me and to protect others because he wants me and everyone safe. I think the world often turns from God because they don’t like the thought of a ruler and they don’t realize that he’s just this humble, gentle ruler that is much more of a loving Papa bear than anything. He shines his lights in my rearview mirror, looks me in my scared and tired eyes, confronts my issues and says “Baby girl, I love you. I want you safe. That’s why I say do this, and don’t do that. Please listen.”
If we don’t, we suffer consequences. He’s not waiting to trip us up and catch us making mistakes, but rather He lets life take it’s course and is still waiting with open arms to help us figure things out. I had this sickening revelation that I am not like that. When offenses are committed against me, I am first to print out the long list of previous offenses and read between the lines for additional ones. While in some circumstances second chances aren’t healthy if genuine remorse isn’t shown, I like to slap on as many fines as I can when they’ve been discovered.
Overwhelmed. That is how I felt. I felt swallowed by grace and I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. So much grace I couldn’t process it, I couldn’t internalize what mercy really was. Hindsight being 20/20, I saw that it was all prefacing me for what was about to start unfolding at 8 PM later that night.
I’ve been dating a guy this summer and things started out intense and wonderful. He said all the right things, he had this amazing intense stare when he’d tell me how beautiful he found me and how he just wanted me to feel special. He was forward in the way he communicated with his feelings. He asked me to meet his sister a week into it, and considering the last serious relationship I had the sister and mother of my sig other basically destroyed and shred of confidence or self respect I had, I reluctantly agreed after choking back my emotional puke. I basically hate meeting people’s families now if I’m dating someone.
He was opposite to me in ways my parents would love: North Dakotan, republican, and into football. He was jacked, but not quite jacked as me. I dated a guy more jacked than me last summer and I just can’t emotionally connect with someone who has a better six pack than I do.
We got into a heated text conversation one day and instead of calling me, offering to talk through our miscommunication or sleeping on things he ended our relationship through a text. I responded with “Nice” and a thumbs up GIF of Nick from the Bachelor. V mature on both of our parts. About 48 hours had passed, I’d taught three times and taken three classes, run about 6 miles and still could not sleep so I showered, texted him “I’m coming over” and we talked it out. He looked like a sad little puppy who had polished off 80% of a bottle of family size bottle of wine (why do those exist by the way? Family sizes are for families who have young children and need to save money on lunchable fillings and dinner costs. Why is wine included in this?) He explained how he felt, where things went wrong and how strongly he felt about me. The words “I cannot think of a single thing I do not love about you” were communicated directly to my face and four days later I was re-dumped via text message while at church. I’d like to say that I acted with complete grace and kept my composure but my promise to every single person I knew when I started this blog was that I would always be brutally honest with what happens in the stories that make up my life. The two best lines of my melt down were:
“If you don’t want to be with me I don’t want to be with you either because I’m a hot AF yoga sculpt teacher who’s hella independent, v caring, can cook like a boss, is funny as shit and is willing to work at a relationship so if you don’t want me you’re clearly psychotic and I don’t want to end up on 48 hours mystery with a crazy man for a husband.”
And lets not forget my response to his “you never know what will happen in the future…”
“The fuck I don’t. You will need to pull off a romantic gesture that makes Heath Ledger’s marching band scene in 10 things I hate about you look like child’s play for me to even talk to you again.”
Four days after he looked me in the eyes and told me there wasn’t anything he didn’t love about me I found out he was sleeping with someone else, and it had started before then. What’s worse? He had the audacity to start posting pictures of the two of them on social media five days later. If you’re going to be a dick, be a dick, but at least have some shred of respect for the other person’s feelings involved.
Since then I have coped with wine, roommates, Jesus, beer, yoga, tequila, running and church. Joke’s on him though because when I went to grab some of my stuff from his place I grabbed the fresh ground peanut butter from Whole Foods I had brought over there to eat with apples in honor of sugar free September that was happening. If you mess with me and my heart you’re an asshole. If you mess with me and food you’re dead and I am not even a little bit sorry.
At this point it wasn’t a breakup anymore. I don’t view myself as dumped. I was deceived by a deceiver and while I’m very upset that I was led to believe that this incredible human dwelled in his body, I now know that never in a million years would I ever want to be with who he really turned out to be. My entire life has always and will always be dedicated to making people feeling more whole, less broken, accepted, welcomed, and loved without strings and unconditionally and this person would not fit into that. But I couldn’t shake these spells of horrible, sickening anger and debilitating sadness that would wash over me.
Then it hit me. I couldn’t process my interaction with the police officer from Wednesday because mercy isn’t an emotion, it’s an action. It’s pardoning of wrongs even though they’re there. It’s saying “this is not okay, but you are human and you are still loved by Jesus, and therefore you are released.”
So now everytime I see an advertisement for buffalo wings (more proof they’re from the devil), see Florida Georgia Line referenced or someone mentions the republican party and I feel like ramming my crippled arm through a wall or melting into a puddle of tears I force myself to audibly say out loud “I forgive Jon.” I’ve discovered from a human perspective, this is how mercy works. It’s unnatural. It feels wrong. It feels like we’re letting them get away with injustice and that goes against every bone in my passionate little body. But without it we’re selfish Christians. We relish in the unconditional and undeserved love and grace of Jesus and don’t pass it on to others.
Not because he deserves it from me, we all know what he did was disgusting. Rather because I don’t deserve it from Jesus, and I believe that He isn’t some story or some rule maker. I believe a real, relational God who desperately wants relationship with us and that belief demands a change in my actions. On a purely human level do I have every right to want to run him over with my car? Fuck yes. Based on the fleshly desires that we all have is the occasional desire to castrate him by way of a rusty pliers justified? Fuck yes. But mercy says a simple, gentle, clear “no.” It says “Vengeance is mine, and I chose to deal with it by Jesus. You are flawed, he is flawed. Let me deal with this. You do not have the badge, or the lights, or the gun, or the tazer. Trust me, I know how to handle this situation. You don’t need to know how it ends up. You don’t need to talk to him again. You don’t need to read him his rights or lack thereof. You have feelings, they are hurt and I am hurt with you. I care about you. I want you safe. I want him safe. I love you both. Buckle up, baby girl. Drive safely. Let’s just go home.”
So together we repeatedly mutter “I forgive Jon” a minimum of 100 times a day even though one of us (me) doesn’t feel like it. Together we make our ways through our yoga classes (I view Jesus as v present in everything I do, including yoga) and all the way through the day until we’re back home on the couch eating the peanut butter I took back from his house.