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.