With the toddler and baby–in-tow, Chris and I toured our future home that was being built, while the 8 and 5-yr-olds waited outside in the middle of the 180-acre property. When we came outside, a newsworthy story was underway. We heard a “Bam!” and another “Bam! Bam!” It sounded as if our car were being shot with b-b’s. “Bam Bam!” Chris ran over to find our 5-yr-old picking up more ammo (rocks) as he proceeded to throw them directly at our Ford Excursion, five feet away.
New white scratches lined the entire right side of the black truck, and the taillight had been shattered before our arrival. “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?!!!!” Chris roared, as he grabbed Nate’s hand before the next pebbles could be launched.
“Crash!” we heard the glass fall from the side rear-view mirror.
Bewildered, Nate replied, “I am just trying to hit the license plate.”
No. I could never make these things up. Yes, my children still do things like this, and I will write about them in five or ten years – when I think they’re funny.
I am a believer in giving young children grace, but this true tale from my child needed more than grace. Although unintentional, there were results that happened due to the 5-yr-old’s actions, and those scratches, mirror and taillight needed to be fixed. He was in trouble!
I can’t tell you the number of times I was “just aiming for the license plate,” and someone or something got hurt in the mean time. So often, I want to chalk it off as “not my fault,” but the fact is that there are ramifications due to my actions, and I am responsible.
I regret the number of times I have put my foot in my mouth at the sacrifice of someone’s heart. Instead of apologizing or clarifying, I sadly have let it go as if “It’s her problem if she’s going to be so sensitive,” because, after all, I was only aiming for the license plate.
When I was a young filly of about 23, I was 5’7” and 112lb, the same dimensions as a Miss America pageant contestant that year. (OK, not the same dimensions, but the same numbers. LOL!) I wore skirts that fit and were comfortable in length to me (short!), and figured if guys looked inappropriately, that was their sin, not mine. My aim was simply to dress up and feel comfortable. However, our pastor shared a different perspective (regarding Titus 2, which tells women to be “chaste”) :
“You would probably be surprised to know how many times I have had men in the church lament to me – the last guy only recently – telling me, “If only our women knew how difficult it was at times to come in here and try to focus on God while at the same time ending up battling my flesh over someone nearby who showed up looking like they did . . . the entire service became a tug of war and I have left church more defeated than when I came in.”
I recognized that scratched paint and broken taillight; I, myself, may once have caused it.
You have heard that we judge others by their behavior, but we judge ourselves by our intentions. In other words, we judge others by the scratches on the truck, but we excuse (or often deny) our own scratch-making, because we were “just trying to hit the license plate.”
Luckily, although thrown-stones indeed have consequences, there are lessons learned, and paint to make it new. My son eventually paid for the damages with his labor. He learned he needed to stop throwing stones if there was a risk of something nearby breaking.
I suppose that’s the lesson: I need to stop throwing stones, since there are people all around me… breaking. I need to ask forgiveness from those whom I have “scratched” even unintentionally, so fresh paint can be applied. Of course, when we ourselves get scratched, we can remind ourselves that maybe the offender was …only aiming at the license plate.
May God bless you with intentions and actions that match.
What amazing insight. I needed that reminder. How often I have judged people by there action and myself by my intention and not seeing the damage that has created in LIFE. Thank you so much.
Terri. This is a great post. I’ve had a similar talk with my two teen girls about leading boys and men astray with our “unintended” clothing. I was that same young lady who figured it was a man’s fault for looking at me, and did not take ownership for my part in keeping a man’s heart pure – whethee I knew him or not. Tracy
What a beautiful and gentle way to convey a sticky message on proper attire. You have become such an insightful woman of God, I know your mother must be so proud of you.
Fantastic post, its amazing how you can take a story and pull principals and teaching out of it. You Terri Brady have a true gift and use it in a great way. As always thanks for sharing from the heart.
James and Claire
This is awesome. Thank you for that perspective. I have heard it said that it is the “men’s responsibility to guard their eyes. If they sin, that’s their problem.” but this is oh so true. Thank you so much for this awesome blog post! Praying my outfits don’t become stones!
Awesome post Terri! Thanks for all you do! It really made the ride to work on this beautiful Michigan morning joyful!
I adore you Terri Brady!! I love and appreciate the perspective you provide. Thanks for this post (as well as ALL the others!!) ❤
I pray for my little neighbor girl next door. She is quite beautiful, but her mother lets her dress like a much older girl. She is only ten, but I fear her looks and actions are going to get her in trouble.
This is an excellent article, and as always, you have shown your mastery with using every day incidents as illustrations of profound principles. I consider myself extra fortunate, however, because I get to read rough drafts of these, also, and in this particular case, the original draft was so different from this final version that I feel I got two articles for the price of one! I hope the readers of this blog appreciate the time you put into it! Fantastic writing!
Beautiful! My soon to be16 year old daughter just finished reading Lies Young Women Believe. She went further and wrote a three page report stating that she realized that she too has been “aiming at the license plates” yet often leaving scratched people in her wake. Now she didn’t say it like that, but the message was clear.
I am so thankful for your writings and the perspective they cause.
I love your parentlng parables. I learn SO much from you! Thank you!
Teri, thank you so much for your perspective with this article. You are truly a gifted writer and such a beautiful woman of God. I am so thankful I can listen to you via cd’s and read your husbands books and learn how to properly care for my family. You and Chris are awesome examples. Thank you so much for your servants heart! Blessings to you and your family.
Thank you Terri for another wonderful teaching moment. You always seem to turn a life moment into a positive teaching one. We are so grateful!!
I love your article. I agree with Chris, you have such an eloquent way of turning your every day incidents into stories that illustrate profound principles. 🙂
Amazing article – you show such grace when tackling difficult subjects and provide such an incredible example to follow. I pray that our young women will take heed of this information and their mothers and mentors can help to guide them on their journey in life which can have many unforseen twists. I strive everyday to overcome the dents and dings that I cause – as unintentional as they may be. But I realize that ultimately I must take responsibility and make amends for those actions.
I just love how you turn a child’s story into a teachable moment for us. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog. You are amazing!
WOW! Great post Terri! I am so drawn in by your writing. Thank you for the time it takes to write these posts. They truly do leave a lasting impression!
Thank you Terri for showing us LIFE lessons in everyday situations and that our reaction to them makes all the difference. God Bless you!
Thank you for such a beautiful reminder! You’re an amazing lady!
OH BOY, I can so relate to this one, especially now! LOL……. You hit the nail on the head (or license plate, hee hee). Your point is so true that we judge others based on action, but ourselves on our intentions. This is a perfect example of learning to ” love our neighbors AS ourselves. If we could all love/judge others the way we do ourselves I think our world would look a whole lot different! Great lesson and reminder!!!! I so appreciate your ability to teach life lessons in such a graceful and relatable way. Hope to see a book from you soon:D. Luv ya! God Bless, Jeanette
Thank you…another great post that I can audit myself against and share with my girls.
I love how you are able to derive memorable life lessons for everyday events. Thank you for your inspiration.
I love your analogies. I too have just aimed at the license plate and missed and taken down everything on the path in between me and my supposed objective. Thank you over and over for your perspective in your blog and on cds …. you are truly an inspiration.
Thank you for another wonderful blog! Its a great reminder that we need to stay focused on improving what we can control….ourselves!
What an amazing perspective you have Terri! I love how you can take things that happen in life and turn them into lessons! I appreciate your leadership so much!
So great. What a good analogy. Thanks Terri
Great post, you are amazing. And I must say, there have been a lot of pebbles and nearby plates in my life. I am so thankful for the Lord and the opportunity to understand, give and receive grace and forgiveness. I truly appreciate your sharing and thoughts.
You are such an inspiration and an amazing teacher! Thank you for the story. God bless you.
This is an awesome post, as always timely!! This will stick with me for a very long time, thanks.
I absolutely LOVE your posts and LOVE recommending them to others. You are a gifted teacher and a blessing to us all!! We do appreciate the time you put into your writings…thank you so much!!
Thanks for the reminder Terri! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I just came upstairs to find my father-in-law, who has the beginnings of alzherimer’s, washing the cup I received from my good friend for my birthday. The cool cup with the straw and the battery operated light on the bottom, now immersed in the soapy water. I have asked him before to NOT wash my cup, but of course he did not remember. I was so frustrated. If he would just leave the dishes alone……, ! Your blog is a good reminder to remember his intentions…. “I’ll just help with the dishes”. A little grace, a little perspective (it’s just a cup), and a lot of love go a long way.
So many nuggets in this short post. Learn so much through your stories! Thank you so much!
This is a beautiful analogy & how we should not only consider others, but course correct immediately when it comes to our thinking.
Thank you ever so much for being the inspiration that you are!
Thank you for sharing your life stories & examples, to teach us readers! & for leading the way. God Bless! 😉
Thank you for the perspective. I have had the same issue with certain individuals dressed at church. My thoughts during church running wild such as “Why would her parents let her dress like that.” or “Wow she is so untouchable at Church she is the go to gal look at her body! and at her age”. I too have walked out of church forgetting the message but remembering the questions that rage in my head about attire. Truly a different perspective to love people where they are at and make sure I am not trying to throw rocks at a license plate but build myself into the person I am destined to be.
Wow! Thanks for this post Terri! I feel for Nate as I can’t tell you how many times people put their rear view mirrors and side panels in front of the license plate I was aiming at.
Im laughing reading this story because I can remember my brother and I doing the same thing…only it was a picture window and we were firemen saving the people in the house! I often gain perspective from your family stories because we are right in the middle of that stage of our lives (3 kids: 4-2-6months) and find it encouraging that it can be survived. Thank you for using real life to teach eternal principles.
Wow! Great post Terry. I love your stories and I love the lessons that you have with each of them. I agree with you that sometimes in life we are scratching and breaking things when we are just trying to hit the license plates. But even through the scratched up car and the broken mirror God is still a forgiving God! He is there to forgive our sins and clear our slate. He straightens our path and strengthens us to continue on with our journey and he is with us every scratch and break along the way.